Thursday, May 30, 2024

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Only in Westport: U.S. Flags on Post Road Bridge Stir Controvery

Westport has flown the American flag on flagpoles on the Post Road Bridge for several years now.

They usually go up April 1 and remain there until the fall. But First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell ordered them up early this week as U.S. troops moved into Iraq and immediately received protest calls.

Farrell, a Democrat, said after the flags went up Wednesday one caller told her flying the flag was a partisan gesture in support of President Bush and his Iraq policy and that they should come down.

Another said the action was not in keeping with the spirit of longtime Westporter and United Nations supporter Ruth Steinkraus Cohen in whose name the bridge is to be renamed under a proposal submitted to the state legislature.

Steinkraus Cohen died last year.

Update: A resolution endorsing the proposal, submitted by State Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard, a Republican, was approved 26-5 by the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) at its April 1 meeting.

Still another caller told Farrell Westport should cancel its annual ֓jUNe Day celebration in June, which Steinkraus Cohen led annually.

The town flies flags of U.N.members from the Post Road Bridge flagpoles to welcome U.N. delegates, mission members and staff who spend the last Saturday in June in Westport enjoying the townԒs hospitality.

Farrell said she ordered the Public Works Department to put the flags up early this year as a show of support for U.S. troops at risk in Iraq.

She said it is not an endorsement of President Bushs Iraq policy, which she has publicly criticized for failing to win diplomatic support from the U.N. Security Council.

She said she has no intention of removing the flags or canceling ғjUNe Day. ԓThe last time I checked, she said, ԓthe United States is still a member of the United Nations. Only in Westport.

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