BARRE, Vt. – Two months after a heated debate broke out in the City of Barre over whether a large American flag could fly over City Hall Park on September 11, tensions rose again over a similar request for Veterans Day.
City councilors concerned about raising the flag said their reservations weren’t about the flag, but that the request was politically motivated. Councilor Teddy Waszazak said last week that the application by his former opponent Brian Judd to fly a large American flag downtown on Veterans Day was nothing more than a “stunt to get on the front page of newspapers.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, a handful of Barre residents had their chance to weigh in.
“When I was overseas, the best part of coming back into our base was looking up and seeing Old Glory flying,” Chuck Barney, chair of the Barre Area Veterans Council, said. “I know a lot of people and veterans who would be extremely happy with the city when they see the flag flying across Main Street.”
Reaction was mixed to Waszazak’s concern that Judd’s gesture was politically motivated.
“You’ve got to separate your differences, not make it personal, and just support those who supported us and still do,” one speaker said.
“My personal take is it’s a very selfish and self-centered agenda based on politics and trying to make a point,” said another Barre resident.
In the end, Waszazak joined the unanimous vote in favor of flying the flag. He denied accusations that his objections stem from being unpatriotic.
“Anybody who knows me on a personal level knows how fundamentally false that is,” Waszazak said. “My grandfather flew in Europe in World War II fighting actual Nazis. I do not trust the intent of the applicant, but I do think the impact of flying this flag on Veterans Day would be a huge positive for our community.”
After the vote, Barney asked to speak again.
“I appreciate you guys moving forward with this,” Barney said. “As a veteran, it’s very important to me that everyone expresses their ideas, their concerns, their worries. I told my kids growing up, ‘You’re not going to make 100 percent of people happy 100 percent of the time, so do the best you can.’ Thank you.”