Why a massive flag won’t fly in Barre on anniversary of 9/11

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 6:20 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2021 at 4:46 PM EDT
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BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) - Twenty years ago after the September 11th attacks, Vermont searched for answers.

Barre came together and created a massive American flag, each piece crafted and stitched together by students. The flag was then strung across North Main Street.

Brian Judd lives in Barre and wanted to see the flag fly again to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11. He says he was scheduled to fly on one of the planes that struck the World Trade Center.

“Back in 2001, I changed my reservation to fly out of Boston on Wednesday, September 12 instead of Tuesday, September 11. So, it’s important to me,” Judd said.

Twenty years later, Judd wanted to once again hang the stars and stripes over Main Street.

First, he had to have it fixed. Judd went to Megan Boisvert who mended the flag with a leather patch.

“It was at no charge because we wanted this up. There’s no reason to not have it up. I never thought there would be a problem,” Boisvert said.

That’s when they hit a snag. Engineers said the cable that would have supported the flag wasn’t sturdy enough. So, there was a motion to fix the anchors and instead put up a smaller flag. But it never received a second and the motion died on the floor.

Councilor Emel Cambel said in the council meeting that the flags currently flying downtown already send a clear message. Cambel also said she feared some people would find the large flag “intimidating.”

“There have been some pretty ugly confrontations that have been used to promote causes that are contrary for what our national flag stands for,” Cambel said at the meeting.

I was not able to reach Cambel.

Barre City Manager Steven Mackenzie says the issue speaks to the change in politics over the last 20 years.

“There was no second thoughts and of course to 9/11, here we are 20 years later and it was not approved by council which surprised me,” Mackenzie said.

So for the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Barre will go without having the large flag over downtown. But Judd hopes that it will fly once again going forward.

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