You may not remember USS Thresher, SSN-593. She did not serve long nor make notable accomplishments; on a shakedown cruise she plunged miles beyond crush depth and 129 members of the boat’s crew and shipyard’s staff lost their lives. This happened a very long time ago: 1963, and so the name is known more to submariners and naval architects and surviving families than it is to the general public.
But those families remembered, and while there are memorials to the lost sub on the secured shipyard grounds, they planned a simple memorial — a 129-foot flagpole, one foot for ever casualty — in the Kittery, Maine traffic circle.
Plans were made, money was raised, municipal approval was duly granted.
Then came the flag-haters.
A small clicque of angry art-colony hangers on, billing themselves as “landscape designers,” waited until after the appeal period was closed, and then began assailing the Memorial in the press. Lately, they’ve hired a lawyer to try to gum up the Memorial’s progress.
They always sound reasonable, so if you don’t keep track of their positions, you’ll miss a sudden volte-face, a free glissade, or an Immelmann turn, or whatever maneuver is required to keep them on target. Their positions shift, their arguments morph, their voices warble but it always comes down to the offense they take at the flag and flagpole. They are not willing to put voice to that offense, so they hide behind veils of sophistry. They are not willing to protest the flag by pulling it down and burning it, as they would prefer — instead, lawyers are their matches and a court their accelerant.
It is but a short step to understand that they do not ever intend to honor the sailors and shipyard workers who voluntarily dove deep and who remain on eternal patrol. They have the same contempt for those crushed heroes that they do for the flag that the sailors served — and the “landscape designers” didn’t.
These people deserve to be named. They are soi-disant landscape designers Martha Petersen. Neil Jorgensen, and Wendy Pomeroy, and their lawyer John C. Bannon. Bannon may just be a hired gun, and not a flag-hater himself, but there’s a reason that lawyers who seek out mob clients get labeled “mob lawyers.” And, in fact, Bannon was one of the original flag-hating complainers, before he undertook to represent the others.
One more thing: after a public meeting, the “landscape designers” and Bannon pronised to drop their complaint. After the public’s back was turned, they renewed it.
While no one expects much from a flag-hating landscape designer, it’s unusual to see an attorney, even a flag-hating one, that holds his word so cheap. (Not because anyone expects integrity from lawyers, but because it’s bad for business). But apparently flag-hating Attorney John C. Bannon’s promise is worth nothing, and he doesn’t mind everybody knowing about it.