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To the Editor:

   First and foremost, I would like to praise, congratulate and thank Councilman Brian Boms for having the gumption to make a motion enabling the Borough of Atlantic Highlands to continue to be proud of the American flag and recognizing it as a sign of hope, freedom and pride.

    I was deeply ashamed of my governing body at Thursday night’s council meeting for taking time and energy to question why the motion was made, the first concern that came up.   Councilwoman Hohenleitner thought it should be discussed first before letting the public in on something new.

I was further ashamed when Mr. Boms original motion to raise the flag the following morning failed to get sufficient support. I admired how he, and Councilmen Murphy, Dellosso and Borrachia, the only veteran on the governing body, compromised and agreed to July 3 rather than continue to keep the flag at half-staff.  I was shocked at suggestions action wait until we see whether the Governor is raising it for the nation’s birthday July 4.    We aren’t a community any longer who can think for themselves?

  Councilman Boms made it very clear. He expressed his deep grief over the six friends he has lost and the dozens of others he has seen stricken with Covid-19 but said “enough is enough.”

   I couldn’t agree more.

   The Governor of New Jersey made the Garden State the only state in the Union to continue to keep our flag lowered.  The President had directed flags be lowered for three days in March. It was symbolic, moving, and showed grief and pain. But three days was enough.

   For those who still believe New Jersey should follow an executive order from a Governor who insists of keeping the flag at half-staff, I have several questions:  Will he ever raise it? If he does, then will he lower for every person who dies of Covid-19 this year, next year or while he is still in office? Stroke and heart attacks are the leading causes of death in New Jersey. Will he begin a new agenda of lowering the flag for every death from those diseases? What makes Covid such a special disease that the flag should be kept lowered?  Why is dying of Covid more patriotic or grieving than any other illness?  The Governor’s executive order remains open-ended. Does the Governor not have any confidence in local governing bodies, even our Boards of Freeholders, to let them decide what is best for their communities?

   As the mother of three children who together willingly and proudly devoted nearly 50 years in defending that flag, all three serving in foreign lands to protect it, and knowing each of those three military members has lost military friends, some of whom are buried in Arlington National Cemetery, it is terribly painful to see their deceased friends who fought for that flag only had it lowered a single day for them. But the New Jersey Governor has lowered it for months for a disease no one knows enough about.  Will Atlantic Highlands?

   Nor did the Governor’s actions allow those who wanted to show concern for Floyd George at his horrific death display it with a flag at half-staff. There is protocol and a procedure for honoring another person while the flag is at half-staff for a separate reason. The Governor did not even invoke that procedure.  Neither did Atlantic Highlands.

    Because of my earlier concerns for dishonoring our fallen military, Borough Administrator Adam Hubeny and Chief David Rossbach made it possible to have the flag displayed properly and respectfully at Veterans Park on Memorial Day. But the borough of Atlantic Highlands couldn’t even raise it on Flag Day.

     The United States has fought in many wars since it became the United States. In every one, the American flag has been the banner that gave hope and conviction to the men and women who were putting their lives on the line to ensure we remain a free country. It was, in battle,  always flying high, in front, and with the pride of a nation accompanying those military who fought so bravely to protect everything it stands for.

   I’m happy Councilmembers Boms, Borrachia, Murphy and Dellosso have had enough of keeping our flag half hidden.  While I have admired and appreciated some of their actions as members of the governing body, I am ashamed Councilmembers Crowley and Hohenleitner  think so little of the American flag, and those Atlantic Highlands veterans who risked their lives, as well as all residents and their families who believe it should be flying tall and proud. A sign of hope.    

 

Muriel J. Smith
Atlantic Highlands