What So Proudly We Hailed

While “06880” readers were discussing the vileness of the Westport PAL for daring to sponsor tonight’s fireworks, another blog was helping affect real change.

I admit it:  I missed the story.

I drove over the Post Road bridge the other day, and noticed the American flags were gone.  I chalked it up to not paying attention the bazillion other times I cross the bridge.  I thought they were up all the time, I said to myself.  Guess not.

Guess again.  As WestportNow.com reported, since 9/11 nearly 100 American flags have graced what no one calls the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.  They fly from late April to Thanksgiving, giving way only to flags of the world on jUNe Day (last Saturday) and UN Day (October).

Indeed they were gone, victim of budget cuts and the need to slash Public Works expenses.  The new plan would have them up only for major holidays.

The Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. (Photo by Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com)

After WestportNow.com announced the news — and, okay, they knew about it because founder Gordon Joseloff spends a bit of time at Town Hall — reaction was swift.  Audrey Hertzel got the ball rolling, and the next day a private individual ponied up $2,500 to pay for annual maintenance.

It was a wonderful moment for Westport — for downtown, for every person who drives or walks over the bridge, and for the power of 1 citizen (and 1 blog) to create change.

Meanwhile, this blog was talking about how horrible it is that the PAL has run the fireworks for over 50 years, and how awful it is that once a year the traffic is bad at the beach even though everyone has a good time.

My bad.

41 responses to “What So Proudly We Hailed

  1. As a former Westporter, the 4th of July fireworks at Compo Beach remains one of my favorite memories of my childhood in Westport.

    It was usually picnic with friends and neighbors, playing on the beach, with a great finish to the day– the fireworks! I remember every year, they ended their display with the American Flag punched out in the sky with fireworks. What could be more Westportian that that!

  2. Dan: Your characterization of the fireworks thread is far from the truth. You must not have been paying attention, or you have your own agenda.

    • Aamzing. I’m getting bashed on my own blog. I apologize for having “an agenda,” and will now strive to follow in your footsteps, “Jeffsx,” because you certainly don’t have one of your own.

    • Well you taunted Jeffxs for a debate and you got all you could handle and more.

      • Yeah. If I was really a bad guy I’d just delete his comments. But that’s not the way I roll.

        • Innocent Bystander

          No one is saying you are a bad guy. For one of the first times, I saw the PAL blog as a taunt. And I didn’t practically like it. You know as a experienced writer that if you don’t have “an agenda” that you soon will be without readers. You made your point on PAL without reservation and Jeffxs responded. No good, bad or ugly. A blog.

  3. Innocent Bystander

    Before you go bashing yourself against the wall, I think the blog on PAL did create a healthy discussion. It certainly made me THINK about an age old tradition in this town. And thinking is good. As far as the flags on the bridge, they are truly beautiful but I am not sure why such a cost factor is attributable to rising the flags for the entire summer?? Once you have the flags, what is the expense? That being said, the heaviest casualties in the war in Afganistan were last month. Over 60 GI’s died. Real CHANGE would be to bring our troops home so that they might enjoy the fireworks at Compo Beach.

  4. Innocent:

    I am trying to locate where on the earlier blog the PAL was described as vile, and I can’t find any such comments. Can you?

  5. Innocent Bystander

    Jeffxs: Nope. Not on “Be a PAL” or “Beach Bans.”

  6. Jo Ann Miller

    If there is a fund to keep up the flags up through November, please let me know. I would gladly contribute. It is a beautiful image as you enter town and a fine sign of patriotism. I hope people will remember our fighting soldiers when they see them.

  7. Sensible One


    Here’s the thing…. There was no “vileness” mentioned on the blog. Jeffxs was looking at the issue from a rational and businesslike point of view. Just because the PAL has run the fireworks forever, doesn’t mean that they should get to do that each and every year.
    There may (or may not be) someone else who would like to take it on. And they should be able to petition the town for their opportunity. There seems to be no financial transparency in the organization as far as I can tell –

    I received a letter yesterday that said it is a non-profit organization and that I should donate gladly because they do so much for our community. I did note that the letter said that 100% of the NET profits are distributed to the various programs they support. What I would like to know is – what is the GROSS?

    You have also assume that “everyone has a good time” – perhaps the people that are having trash thrown on their property, or Moms who are trying to get a baby to bed, or people who have dogs that are terrified of them aren’t having such a “good time”. Now, I’m pretty sure that you are thinking – well, it’s only once a year – and we should all just roll with it – but sorry, my vote is with Jeffxs.

  8. The Dude Abides

    As usual, the Sensible one is sensible. First off, the 4th of July is a wonderful celebration and done well the last time I went in 1958. Crowds and fireworks are not my cup of tea. I do not envy Jeffxs living down there in the havoc but Dan is right about being forewarned by his realtor. There is also the issue of exclusivity. Are there other events held on the beach that benefit private organizations? Perhaps the town of Westport could open up the beach for a mini-Woodstock one weekend. Then they could fund the town employees’ pensions and buy flags year round for the bridge. Jeffxs could loan his house out to the Rolling Stones or The Boss. Then everyone would be happy?

  9. John McCarthy

    Dude, Bruce is staying at my house.

  10. Thankfully we have this blog...

    Does this happen often? Responding to one post on another? Listen,06880 ROCKS Westport, for the good or the bad in terms of the conversation it evokes but…the way some of you treat each other? Kind of unsettling! Non-profit groups can and do use the beach I am sure, look at IHA and Castles in the Sand, the PTA’s with their welcome back to school picnics, post-prom parties etc. There is a routine to getting to use it that one must go through. You want to hold a different fireworks night? Apply! We have much to be grateful to for the charitable groups that use the beach for events that either build community or raise money for community activities. Seems that is exactly what the PAL has been doing for years with their fireworks. I am not so sure events that are established and handled year in year out by non-profits in good standing that benefit our community should have to wonder if their “opportunity” will be renewed. Got another non-profit that wants to enjoy big fundraiser at the beach? Think of a good idea and try it. As above, other groups do. People dump rubbish on your lawn on fireworks night? Shameful. Want to look at the books of a 501c(3)? I am sure there is a way and I guess you’d need to find out what PAL’s designation is? But PLEASE…..stop dragging us all through your upset. Its tiresome!

  11. Hmmm… Now that I think about it actually – what is it about flags that costs $2,500. I’d like to see an accurate accounting of that too.

    • According to WestportNow.com, Public Works director Steve Edwards said it costs $2,500 a year because “they get tattered, they fall off and people take them. We replace one-third of them each year, and there’s the question of sending manpower out there to replace them.”

  12. Innocent Bystander

    Thankfully: Thanks for clarifying everything so clearly for everyone and then telling us what we can do, what we can discuss and how we should think.

  13. Thankfully we have this blog...

    Innocent Bystander. You have GOT to be kidding me! If anything I am offering lots of ways for any of us to imagine using this “scarce public resource”…if you see that as “telling you what to do, discuss or think”….I am confounded.

    • Innocent Bystander

      Sorry, it sounded a lot like condescension rather than confoundedness.

  14. Gary Singer

    Want to really enjoy the fireworks, stress free? Get a boat, or a friend with a boat.
    Much fun from the water. And a little less traffic.

    • The Dude Adides

      I prefer the 12th tee at Longshore but is your boat available? Bernie took all my money.

  15. The post about the cost of the flags was made by someone who appropriated my name. I do not know who that person is. I do not question the appropriateness of the flag or contributions to sustain their display.

    • The Dude Adides

      So there are two of you?

      • Not since 1968.

        • The Dude Adides

          Sorry for your loss. Heck of a year that ’68 though. Martin, Bobby, Mexico City, Tricky Dickey, moonflight. ’08 was suppose to be another bigey. Nope. Keep the faith Jeffxs, you are alright by me. Big cahonies.

          • No real loss; I did enlist, and my supply of illegal substances we subsequently cut off. But 1968 was not a good year for tyhe USA; a real tragedy.

          • The Dude Adides

            Jeffxs: With the draft on my butt, I enlisted in the Navy on April 10, ’68. My attempt to stay out of Vietnam did not work, however. 18 months inland and then Key West. U?

  16. Sensible One

    Thankfully we have this blog………

    “Stop dragging us through all your upset – it’s tiresome”.

    We are not upset – we are simply having a lively discussion. I have learned a few things since reading 06880 and have enjoyed reading other points of view.

    I have particularly enjoyed “tangling” with the Dude, and he being a Lawyer has put a legal view onto the plate sometimes – also interesting.

    Westport is a town of well-educated, successful people – and generally people of that ilk don’t follow the crowd and are independent thinkers. I would hate to think that we all have to do things in this town because “they always have been done that way”. I applaud the independent nature here!

  17. The Dude Adides

    You “Rock” Sensible One or is it that you “roll?”
    All these ’80’s terms are getting me dazed and confused. Is disco making a comeback too? Perhaps we can make the “Brook” into a disco and the PAL will run it?

  18. Don’t talk about how readers are having a lively discussion; many of the comments made on this blog are by the same individual using up to 8 different aliases, coming up with comments on both sides of an issue. So when an innocent reader thinks they are hearing a cat fight, it’s really just a put on.

    Thankfully made some good points but is just the latest caught in the web of lies.

  19. John Karrel

    I’d also enjoy seeing everyone post without using an alias.

  20. Carl A. Swanson

    We have had this discussion before. There are no rules on this blog. That is the beauty of it.
    Anonymity, aliases, dual personas are not prohibited or discouraged. This is freedom of speech at its purest. As long as one is not a predator, he or she is welcome. For those with rigid standards, as mentioned above, this is stressful. But they should be reminded that our Founding Fathers practiced the common use of pseudonyms to argue their points and in the case of Alexander Hamilton to argue with himself. And, in my mind, it makes for a free exchange of ideas and no less of a lively discussion. Mr. Woog has done an excellent job of creating this open forum and has full power to qualify or minimize input. To his credit, he has chosen not to do so.

  21. Dude: I delayed going active until 1970 when I received my commission. I was then Riffed. So, I did not go to Vietnam with Blumenthal.

  22. The Dude Abides

    Jeffxs: Well you didn’t miss much. Hope they did trash your lawn bad last night. Sounds like everything was not “perfect.”

  23. Dude: Just the average amount of beer cans and such. I did notice that Westport’s finest did not enforce the alcohol restriction. Big surprise.

  24. The Dude Abides

    You know what a penny is made of?

  25. Sensible One

    Okay Dude,

    I’m gonna fall for it – what is a penny made of?

  26. Sensible One

    Got it! Copper – that’s the kind of joke my Dad used to tell!!

  27. The Dude Abides

    Yeah sorry, sometimes my mind reverts to my youth. Actually it is Dirty Copper. Your Papa was a nice man. Lawyers and police officers do not get along for some unknown reason. Perhaps because most are dishonest. On a sidenote, it now costs the government 2 cents to mint a penny. 9 cents to manufacture a nickel. Deficit spending at its purest. Happy 4th S.O.