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.
Kevin was a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S). His focus was on weapons: their history, effects and employment. He started WeaponsMan.com in 2011 and operated it until he passed away in 2017. His work is being preserved here at the request of his family.
2 thoughts on “Flag-haters fight Thresher Memorial”
So much for New England tradition. Every old town square in New England is characterized by religion (the local church was usually on the square, to this day) and the flag (where the town’s tall flagpole is a center that draws the eye and serves as meeting place for all manner of private and public occasions). I know that Mainers are the more independent and cantankerous of the New England bunch, but this is really a departure from the region’s character. What a wasted and offensive protest!
The protesters have thrown in the sponge. I will have a brief post on it tomorrow, but the flagpole will rise.
You’re quite right about the town square. Depending on which bunch of New England settlers, the big church is either Congregational (descended from the strict Pilgrims and Puritans, now so liberal as to be nearly post-Christian — think completely deracinated “cultural” Reform Jews) or Episcopalian (our branch of Church of England, now so liberal as to be nearly post-Christian). In the City of Portsmouth, which gives the naval base its name, the North Church is the old C of E church).