A GRAND OLD FLAG

For more than a year the skyline above Dewar Drive lacked the usual fluttering display of red, white, and blue. The flag pole, which was dedicated shortly after the deadly attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, remained bare after a tilt was noticed in 2018.

The centralizers that were meant to keep the pole straight were failing, and it began to lean. Early estimates put repairs at $10,000. About $11,000 was raised, and others donated their time, skill and equipment. Ultimately all the Rotary Club had to pay was $600, the cost of two coats of paint.

On Flag Day, a crowd turned out to watch Old Glory slowly assume its familiar place. The extra money will go toward flag maintenance, which can be costly due to the fierceness of Wyoming winds. Each flag costs about $1,800 and can only be flown for a short time before it needs to be replaced and repaired.

It goes to show that when we come together, we can demonstrate what makes this country great, and keep the American colors flying.

KEEP IT CLEAN

Whether their efforts are measured by the bucket, by the planter or by the truckload, residents are working to make our community look nice. Those who want to participate in the Downtown Locate Litter program can pick up a pail from the Rock Springs Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency, fill it with trash, and receive a $5 Java Peddler gift certificate and online recognition.

Scaling up in scope, volunteers filled downtown Rock Springs with fresh flowers. The planters are no longer lifeless thanks to the addition of about 1,200 petunias and 70 red star spike cordylines.

Then there’s the Eden Valley landfill, which will remain open for another year. The system should stay the same with residents bringing garbage to the transfer station, though larger items like building debris must be broken down. The Eden Valley Solid Waste Disposal District is reviewing options but expects to start closing the landfill on July 1, 2020.

For those who want to go bigger, look to the plans of the Ray Lovato Recycling Center, which received funding from the city of Rock Springs — and may get additional support from Sweetwater County Solid Waste District No. 1 — to continue through the 2019-20 fiscal year. The Recycling Center is seeking partnerships with groups such as Wyoming Waste Management in Green River and the Eden Valley district to recycle more goods and increase the lifespan of landfills. It takes a lot of teamwork to keep trash under control, but with continued commitment we can turn dreams of a cleaner community into a reality.

FLYING HIGH

The Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport received good news in the form of about $5.1 million from the Federal Aviation Administration. The money will be used to install navigational aids, repair and reconstruct taxiways, and improve directional lighting.

There was some criticism of the original submission, which required the airport to spend money on plans without a promise of immediate funding. Airport Director Devon Brubaker said this investment would result in dividends since the project involved necessary upgrades, and the proposals would be good for years even if we missed out on the 2019 round of funding.

The good-faith efforts of airport staff and Rock Springs City Council, which provided the money for the study, paid off. The FAA recognized the seriousness of the need and the effectiveness of the plan to address it. Even with all the airport upgrades completed in the last few years, there’s no slouching. The airport keeps soaring higher.

HISTORIC HEIGHTS

This year we marked important military anniversaries. One hundred years ago, on June 28, 1919, people around the world celebrated the Treaty of Versailles that ended of the War to End All Wars. Roughly 25 years later, on June 6, 1944, Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, to start the liberation of Europe and end another global war. Neither turned out to be the last war, but they both left us with lessons that can aid us today.

On the front lines and on the homefront, people learned to focus on the things that bring them together, not the differences that divide. Soldiers in the foxholes didn’t check the political affiliation or skin color of their comrades before throwing themselves on grenades to spare others. When they looked at dirt-covered faces streaked by blood, they only saw brothers and sisters. They viewed things more clearly in the fog of war than we seem to see today.

Their convictions were demonstrated by their postwar campaigns. Surviving veterans and their families saw how the war still took a toll even after the fighters returned home. Bodies and minds needed mending. Shattered families needed support. They may have been discharged, but they still answered the call to serve.

Their drive to provide for the care of war widows, orphans, and the shell shocked expanded to all corners of society. America benefited from their efforts to expand education, youth activities, health care, and retirement benefits.

Veterans also lead us in the important act of remembrance. They paid a high price for lessons so we can learn with less pain and suffering. We can see what paths to avoid and revel in the good things they’ve accomplished. You don’t need a direct relative to connect with the past; just focus on your shared humanity.

As the Fourth of July weekend winds down and fireworks crackle through the evening, think of the sacrifices made to establish our country and keep it free. Consider the potential of the men and women lost in these wars.

Consider heavy questions. What can we do to prove we’re worthy of their sacrifice? What examples can we set in our homes and on the world stage that show their personal offerings weren’t in vain? How can we use our lives to honor their deaths? Each generation has a chance to build on what came before. Let’s create something that preserves our heritage and sets a good example for those who will follow.

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