Veterans cheer over change in location for flag at Bell Tower Green

Published 12:10 am Sunday, February 12, 2023

SALISBURY — Veterans who spent several weeks advocating for the placement of an American flag at Bell Tower Green Park are celebrating a second victory now that the location of the flag has been moved to where they wanted it all along, on the corner of Church and West Innes streets.

Salisbury’s Historic Preservation Commission approved placing a new flagpole at the corner of Church and Innes streets instead of another spot originally approved on the West Fisher Street side in November. Bell Tower Green Inc., the board charged with overseeing any proposed changes to the park, previously agreed to accept the city council’s unanimous vote in September to allow a permanent display of the American flag at the park, ending more than a year of tension between the board, the city and veterans over whether or not to install a flag.

The flagpole will be erected in the park “as soon as we get the contractor under contract,” according to Assistant Parks and Recreation Director Sam Wilborn.

He said the change of location is due to “aesthetic and logistical” reasons. Since another flag is located on West Fisher Street, “It just didn’t make sense to have a flagpole that close to another flagpole across the street at the library.”

The Bell Tower Green Committee and executive board agreed that the flagpole would be better suited toward the entrance of the park on Innes Street.

The granite base that was going to be built will no longer be necessary since the corner of Church and Innes streets has finished brick at that location. No other changes to the initial plan were proposed.

However, Ronnie Smith, a local veteran and one of the top advocates for the flag being placed in the park, says veterans have asked if they could dedicate the flag, and will likely ask to be allowed to place a plaque at the base of the flag indicating it is dedicated to all from Rowan County who have served.

“We are so excited that this is happening,” Smith said Friday. “We are so very pleased that the city is moving forward with this, and we hope they will allow us to have a dedication there honoring our veterans.”

Veterans had gathered at the corner of the park for several weeks carrying flags and submitted numerous letters to the editor of the Post voicing support for the installation of a flag in the park, and from the start many advocated for locating the flag at what they consider to be the formal entrance to the park.