Flagpoles will get lights in Joliet

Brock A. Stein | 11/22/2016, 3:09 p.m.
Flag pole monuments scattered around the city of Joliet will be illuminated soon thanks to the perseverance of some dedicated ...

Flag pole monuments scattered around the city of Joliet will be illuminated soon thanks to the perseverance of some dedicated residents.

Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk ordered city staff to clear the way for lights to be installed at the city’s 9 flag pavilions after years of inaction to get the project completed.

“This is bureaucracy run amok,” said O’Dekirk last week during the city council meeting.

The city maintains 9 flag pavilions around town, with 5 that will require some form of illumination whether it’s an electrical hook up, if possible, or a solar powered light.

The pavilions that will require lighting includes the sites at the six corners intersection of Raynor Avenue, Plainfield Road/U.S. 30 and Black Road/Ruby Street; Hickory and Western; S. Larkin; South Chicago Street; and Route 59 (across from Kohl’s Department Store).

Illinois’ flag display act requires “a flag shall also be displayed and flown each day of the week from each city or village hall and village square, and at the principal entrance to all supervised public parks” but does not describe requirements for illuminating flags that stay displayed overnight.

Federal Flag Code says that “It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open.”

“However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.”

Joliet resident (and Times Weekly columnist) Wayne Horne told the council last week that the condition of the flags at the pavilions as well as the continued delay in getting the sites properly illuminated is “a disgrace.”

“I believe that proper respect of the flag is a civic responsibility,” said Horne, a veteran of the 101st Airborne who also serves on the city’s Vietnam Veteran’s committee.

Horne said that a group of volunteers organized through Exxon Mobil has agreed to donate their time to install the solar lighting rigs at the locations that need them if the city will purchase the equipment.

Denise Meehan, a gold star mother, whose son Pfc. Andrew Meari was killed in Afghanistan in 2010, said that she was “dismayed that this still hasn’t been done.” Meehan said that the thousands who lined the streets with flags when her son’s body returned home to Joliet 6 years ago shows that “this is important to this community.”

Council member Larry Hug also asked if the city could create a budget line item that would automatically see the city purchase 20 new flags each year to replace them on a regular basis before they become tattered.