Friday, July 4, 2008

The "C" Hill Flag

Some of you know I am NOT American...;) Every one of my American friends shares my love of our respective countries, and all that our nations' flags stand for. My friend Don sent me a piece that I have to share with all of you, especially as you all celebrate July 4th. Don tells me he sends this to the troops who he and his wife Pat take under their wings as members of Soldiers' Angels, and Web of Support. He figures at least 1,000 copies of this have been in the sandbox. :) Stories like this are a part of what, to this outsider, makes America GREAT. Read on! Thank you, Don!

The “C” Hill flag

The “C” hill flag is located on the west side of Carson City, Nevada on a hill that looms over the center of the city. The “C” on the hill was constructed many years ago from rocks gathered from the hill and painted white. The “C” was built by students from Carson High School and has been maintained by students from the school over the years.

Shortly after 9-11 a couple of gentlemen who walked daily in the vicinity of the base of “C” hill were pondering doing something to demonstrate the patriotism of Carson City, and came up with the idea of erecting a flag above the big white “C” on the prominent hill above the city. As often happens the project took on a life of it's own and within a few months the first flag was under construction.

Access to the site where the flag was to be situated is difficult. Departing from the south end of town, 4WD vehicles are required to negotiate the steep rutted road climbing to the saddle in the ridge that leads to the top of “C” Hill. From there it is a very steep climb on foot down the face of the hill to the area of the big white “C”.

The original flag was constructed of vinyl panels attached to a framework of 2X6s anchored in shallow concrete footings. The vinyl panels were stretched over the framework and attached with screws. The panels had been laid out in the gymnasium of the middle school not far from the hill and numbered to make them easy to position. Bundled together in cargo nets a National Guard helicopter delivered the panels to the construction site. Over the next few days the new flag slowly took shape as the panels were attached to the wooden framework. It was a glorious sight as the Stars and Stripes gradually appeared on the hill. After a week of work by teams of volunteers we had a flag, a big beautiful flag. At 65'X120' the flag was visible from all over the city.

Though it looked sturdy it was no match for the winds that roar over the peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and on a very cold December morning in 2003 we woke to the realization that the flag was gone. Totally, absolutely gone. The vinyl panels had been ripped from the framework and scattered God knows where over the valley below by the 100 mph winds of the storm of the night before.

Not to be deterred and drawing on lessons learned from the mistakes made in the construction of the first flag, plans started coming together for a replacement. It had to be strong. It had to be permanent.

Over the next year a group of people from various specialties came together and an ambitious plan utilizing specially treated aluminum panels came to be. The panels would be anchored in deep footings dug into the hill, and the framework would be aluminum attached by long bolts going far into the concrete footings. Money became the immediate concern and the “C” Hill Flag Foundation was formed and began taking donations for the huge undertaking of erecting a new, permanent flag on the hill. Even with the donation of some of the necessary materials and manpower more than $50,000 would be needed to build the new flag.

Bag after bag of cement was hauled to the top of the hill in 4 WD pickups and SUVs and then was carried by hand down the face of the hill to the construction site. It was slow, tedious work, and it seemed the required 3,000 bags of concrete would never all be at the site. Citizens came forward with ideas and a local man who had pack mules volunteered his animals to speed up getting all that cement up the hill. In all over 85 tons of materials were hauled the 1200 feet up the side of that hill. The holes for the footings were dug by hand and the cement was mixed with water supplied by U. S. Forest Service water tankers and the footings with their long bolts were soon in place.

Next came the framework. The National Guard came forward once again and delivered the aluminum beams to the site by helicopter. There volunteers from the Boy Scouts, trusty's from the State Prison, fire crews from the Forest Service, and ordinary citizens built the sturdy base for the flag.

The aluminum panels ran afoul of the Forest Service, who owns the land the flag was located on, and the FAA who were worried that reflections from the flag would blind pilots flying into the Reno Airport. As the manufacturer of the panels went to work on reducing reflections from the flag by coating the panels, the bureaucrats from the Forest Service called for inspection after inspection on the base and framework of the flag. As the days and months ticked by it became obvious that the flag would not be finished in time for the third anniversary of 9-11, and the onset of a severe winter halted construction until spring.

Finally, in a flurry of activity the flag took shape and once again loomed over our lovely city. On a beautiful May afternoon in 2005, the official dedication of the second flag took place with flyovers of F-18s from Fallon Naval Air Station, and C-130s from the Air National Guard in Reno. Dignitaries of every stripe were present. Everything on that day was about the spirit of the Americans who had dedicated years of their lives to a flag, a symbol of the patriotism of a small town in the high desert of northern Nevada.

The flag is near and dear to the hearts of the citizens of Carson City, and as we drive around town our eyes are drawn to the hill with the big white “C” and the beautiful flag. Though it doesn't flutter or wave the flag is a beautiful sight as it disappears and reappears from behind trees and buildings. We are drawn to get as close as we can to the hill, to see the flag up close, but the best views are those that happen when the flag suddenly appears as if from nowhere. It stirs our love of this wonderful Nation. It reminds us that like the first flag on "C" Hill our freedoms are threatened by a different kind of wind, the wind of our enemies who would see us, like the original “C” Hill flag, blown away by acts of terrorism and murder. It reminds us that but for the bravery of our military heroes our Nation would cease to exist, and the greatest most perfect country ever to exist would perish.

That great flag on that hill is much more than just aluminum and concrete. It is America. It is a statement to all who see it, we will survive, we will resist, we will fight for what we believe in. We are Americans.

Don Lindsay

Thank you Don, for allowing me to post this! HAPPY JULY 4th to you all.

1 comment:

Laurie said...

This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing it.