by Bob Brahm, Past Commander, Mercer Island VFW Post 5760
Following letters in the Reporter and testimony at a City Council meeting on the subject of Bicentennial Park and veterans, I want to give another perspective.
Bicentennial Park was built in 1976 with donations from the community to mark the 200th anniversary of the founding of our nation. It was not conceived as a park dedicated to the service of veterans. It was to celebrate our country’s birthday. The Veterans Pergola in Mercerdale Park was conceived and built with input from veterans to honor those who have served our country.
Veterans have never had an attachment to Bicentennial Park, other than that to the flag that is flown there. Our interest is in the flag and the flagpole, and in the honor “Old Glory” should command. There is no honor shown our flag when it flies between an insurance building, two public “latrines,” an abandoned trash facility and amidst trees that overshadow it, as it now does in Bicentennial Park.
In my opinion, and in the opinion of many veterans who live on Mercer Island, the flag and flagpole that are presently in Bicentennial Park should be moved to Veterans’ Plaza, to stand tall near the Veterans Pergola, and to be a backdrop to the ceremonies and performances that occur there.
Bicentennial Park and the veterans should never be used as a pawn in the fight over whether to locate the Mercer Island Center for the Arts at the edge of Mercerdale Park. It is an insult to veterans and to our flag.