Most Marco Islanders we know are proud to be Americans and feel blessed to be living here. We all don’t wave our arms and shout about it much, but there is a palpable atmosphere here, despite occasional outbursts of angst over this or that local issue, that living on Marco USA is something special, something we feel and express now and then.
With that in mind, we think an idea that a few dedicated islanders have been mulling deserves serious, immediate consideration.
The proposal: Find a way to put up and maintain a U.S. flag somewhere on or very near the Jolley Bridge. A big flag. It’s not a complicated concept even though getting it done may take work and enterprise.
Most residents here and many first-time visitors have shared the warm feeling we get when arriving at the bridge to Marco, the view of the water and the island spread out, welcoming, full of promise and fun.
Having the Stars and Stripes part of the panoply of possibilities that is Marco would seem to be a perfect fit.
It’s also a timely idea. The traveling Vietnam Wall will be here in early December and should draw people from around Southwest Florida to our Veterans Community Park for that event. It’s a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C.
The wall’s several day visit here will include the accompanying mobile museum, providing an educational component to enrich the visitor’s experience.
The park itself, Veterans Community Park, will be dedicated officially on November 11. It will be a day of patriotic celebration and support for our veterans.
How nice, how appropriate it would be to salute and wave a welcome to those visitors coming here to see the wall with a flag that shows how proudly we hail.
Moreover, having a large American Flag, an eye-catching, eye-welling portal to the island, would be appropriate and pleasurable every day.
We asked Steve Fickling, just named Marco Firefighter of the Year, what he thought about having a flag on the Jolley Bridge.
“What an idea,” Steve told us. “That would just add so much to that whole feeling when you come across the bridge, to see that. It really does fit.”
Steve remembers his first time coming down Highway 951 to the bridge. It was in 1980 and he was heading to Marco to visit a friend.
“I drove down that road – it was a Friday night – and I was thinking that there was nothing at the end of this road that could get me to stay here. It was dark and all wilderness.
“But when I drove over that bridge, in one second everything changed and I wondered how this great place could be at the end of this road. Like everybody else, I took one look around the island and said, ‘Wow, yeah, this is definitely where I want to be.’ The bridge gets everybody.”
So would the flag. The wheels are in motion at several levels to explore the “Big Marco Flag” idea.
A story to make that point
Islander Carol Roberts is an active fundraiser for good causes, including the Vietnam Wall visit and the Veterans Community Park dedication.
“When people come over to my house, they often say, ‘Oh, your flag’s flying, how come? Is it a holiday or something?’
“I hear that all the time. I explain that I was in Washington on 9/11 and from that day on, I have always flown a flag. And as long as we are at war and have people fighting for my freedom, I’m going to have a flag flying.
“I would like to think everyone here on the island feels that strongly about it too.”
Let’s find out. Let us know via email if you would like to help. Maybe one way to start is for us all to fly a flag at our homes.
Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV, in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Fridays in the Naples Daily News. E-mail: email@example.com.