Massachusetts town officials defend decision not to fly U.S. flags on Sept. 11

A Massachusetts resident is protesting his town's decision not to fly American flags from utility poles on Sept. 11 this year, part of a policy to recognize the anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people with the flags only every five years. reports that the flags in Amherst were flown last year to mark the 10th anniversary of the attack and will be flown again in 2016.

The board had voted to fly small flags on the light posts downtown on only six holidays every year. Resident Larry Kelley thinks 9/11 should become the seventh.

Tony Maroulis, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, supports Kelley's suggestion.

"I understand how polarizing the flag can be in this community. Some might look at the flags as a brazen symbol of might and oppression," Maroulis said. "Others look at it as a source of pride in who we are, and what we can be. Whatever the complicated or simplistic responses to the flags, flying them on 9/11 would allow us to reflect and meditate upon them."

Cinda Jones, president of Cowls Companies, wrote that the current configuration seems like “wishy-washy Amherst compromise at best.”

“That timing says to me that Amherst believes 9/11 is occasionally worthy of remembrance and respect, but 4/5 of the time it's not,” Jones wrote. "Well, it either is, or it isn't. You don't celebrate or commemorate something worthwhile every five years."

Town Manager John Musante said the board represents the “entire community, and there's a difference of opinions within the community."

Musante said flags at municipal sites are flown at half-staff and the fire department holds its annual commemoration at 9:55 a.m. on Sept. 11 at the station to mark the date.

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