American flag making waves in Masonboro Inlet

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Submitted: Wed, 08/17/2011 - 8:58pm
Updated: Thu, 08/18/2011 - 4:04pm

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) –- The stars and stripes are perhaps our Nation’s most recognizable symbol. But a tribute to service members on Masonboro Island is making waves among boaters and the people in charge of the island.

Cruise along the Intracoastal Waterway and near marker 151 you’ll find an empty flagpole. Since the Fourth of July weekend, it had flown an American flag. Boaters calling themselves the “Anonymous Patriots” posted a plaque with it honoring veterans and active duty military that have served our county and defended our freedom. They say they could not think of a better view from their boats than Old Glory. But now, the flag is gone, and the boaters who put it up, who do not want to be identified, say they don’t understand why.

“It’s disappointing that the state doesn’t recognize it for what it is, a memorial that didn’t cost the tax payers a dime,” and Anonymous Patriot said. “It would have been nice if the state would have erected something like that but again, some private citizens, “Anonymous Patriots” put it up as a city memorial for all the see.”

Hope Sutton with the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management says personal property is not allowed on Masonboro Reserve, so the flag had to go.

“We give them some time to come claim their property, then we go back and remove those items,” Sutton said. “So in this case, it happens to be a flag pole, but it’s pretty much the same as other personal property.”

Sutton says Coastal Management left a note on the flag Friday letting the owners know that by law it had to be taken down. She says when the flag was still flying Tuesday morning, officials removed it from the pole. Sutton says she knows the people responsible for the flag are nervous to come forward, because they think they will get in trouble, but she says she is working to find a new home for the flag.

“We would like nothing more than whoever placed that flagpole there to come and work with us to find a more suitable location where it could be lawfully installed so it could be appreciated as it was intended,” Sutton said.

The boaters say they do not think they were given enough time to figure out if the flag could stay where it was, and where they hope it will soon return. They say they have gone as far as to contact local and state leaders to see what can be done about getting the flag back where they think it belongs.


  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    Who took it down during inclement weather?

    Who raised it at 0800 and retired it at Sunset….or who paid the electric bill for illuminating it at night?

    Ever heard of the United States Flag Manual?

    All of you who just love the flag so much should try RESPECTING the flag.

  • Jaynor says:

    Well apparently the Annonymous Patriots got some sense! there was asolr light illuminating it @ night!

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    …on flag etiquette? The United States Flag Manual?

    Do you have even a rudimentary knowledge of where, when, and how to display the National Ensign?

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    Learn how to show respect for your flag. You don’t just dump it on an island and walk away from it.

  • Guest says:

    Uhhh, the solar powered light was not visible in the firsts photos and videos shown of the flag pole….as several folks have stated, it appears “someone” went out and hung the little light after all the ruckus started here on-line.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    Why is this the first mention of it?

  • Guest008 says:

    I’m not saying they should of taken it down because I’m not, I’m saying your understanding is wrong. Did you even read what you wrote?The flag isn’t illuminated properly so they didn’t follow the code in true form.

  • Guest says:

    Unlike an American flag, you can’t wrap yourself in a palm tree or parking meter…hyper-sensitive minds…nothing more, nothing less.

  • Guest says:

    If you would have paid attention to the rest of the comments you would have realized that these Patriots did exactly what they were supposed to do by “protocol” of the National Flag Code. The American Flag may be left up 24 hours of day, if a light is illuminating it throughout the night. Had you done a bit of reading you would know that the pole has a high powered solar light attched. Therefore, the flag can be flown all night.
    Also, the flag must come down in inclement weather, however, if an all weather resistant flag is used, it mat be fown in inclement weather. The Flag that is flying is an inclement weather resistant material. This was not a dump, this is a memorial done with superb planning, and true dedication to our heros. You need to learn some respect. By the way, The national flag code website, look it up.

  • anonymous patriot says:

    According to the National Flag Code, The American Flag may be flown during inclement weather if an all weather resistant flag is used. Had you also done a bit more reading of comments you would realize that these patriots in fact did use an all inclement weather material flag giving them correct protocol to fly during inclement weather.
    The electric bill?????? What do you think, they just ran an extra long drop cord across the Waterway???? My goodness, Im Earth, have we met??? The Amrican Flag may indeed be flown 24 hours a day if there is a light illuminating it through the night. If you had paid attention you would know that the pole has a high powered SOLAR light attached to it. Which means….you guessed it…NO ELECTRIC BILL!!!!!! Maybe you should check the Flag manuel, and maybe YOU should show some RESPECT!!!!!!

  • ken widggins says:

    The flag is lit at night by a solar light. Check your manuals

  • Guest says:

    This excerpt was taken from The National Flag Code Website. Look it up.

    §174. Time and occasions for display
    (a) Display on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in open; night display
    It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

    (b) Manner of hoisting
    The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.

    (c) Inclement weather
    The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all weather flag is displayed.

    (d) Particular days of display
    The flag should be displayed on all days, especially on New Year’s Day, January 1; Inauguration Day, January 20; Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12; Washington’s Birthday, third Monday in February; Easter Sunday (variable); Mother’s Day, second Sunday in May; Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May; Memorial Day (half-staff until noon), the last Monday in May; Flag Day, June 14; Independence Day, July 4; Labor Day, first Monday in September; Constitution Day, September 17; Columbus Day, second Monday in October; Navy Day, October 27; Veterans Day, November 11; Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November; Christmas Day, December 25; and such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States; the birthdays of States (date of admission); and on State holidays.

    It is my understanding that the patriots that flew our Stars and Stripes followed this code in true form. It truely saddens me to hear it has been taken down.

    What sickens me is the thought of these so called coastal management hall monitors taking the flag down. I find myself wondering if they lowered the flag ceremoniously, or did they just let Old Glory drape to the ground in dispair. Did they fold the flag according to code??? I highly doubt it. BE ASHAMED COASTAL MANAGEMENT. Let Our Symbol Of Freedom Fly With Pride!!!

  • Guestish says:

    Who lights it? Who takes it in, during inclimate weather? Who is responsible for lowering it to half-mast, at the order of the President?
    No one? Then don’t fly it. Ever. Anywhere. A neglected flag is one of the saddest things to see.
    If the people had come forward, and promised to properly maintain the flag, and had a contact person, I would be surprised if Coastal Management would have a problem. Instead, they just put it up, like a bunch of pranksters, and have yet to reveal who they are. Stand up “Anonymous Patriots,” or sit down.
    As far as Guest461’s issues with Coastal Management, it doesn’t sound like abandoned vessels would be in their jurisdiction or purview. That sounds like a job for the Coast Guard. Once you start dealing with boats, there’s a whole different set of laws (Admiralty), that have to be followed.

  • Guest says:

    I ‘ve actually wonder why a Flag pole has never been installed on the island before?

    During the day, it a navigational tool. It acts as a way point for boaters and a defined marker for visitors to the island.

    It’s a wind and tide gauge.

    At night, the light acts as a beacon.

    The Flag pole is also a way to communicate to anyone and everyone in viewing range if there is ever a problem on the island, (for example someone being stranded on this island). There is currently no way to do that.

    Lastly, a flag pole flying the American Flag does look good, and is pleasant to look at.

    Just my thoughts.

  • Guest says:

    I appreciate our warriors, too, and I love my country, but sometimes I love my country without a lot of man-made objects sticking up in the air everywhere I look.

  • Jaynor says:

    I may not be a local but I do frequent the area often to visit family! I think the flag is breath taking where it stands! What a great way to show appreciation to our past, present and future soilders who fight everyday so we can be free! As a famous singer once sang:
    American girls and American guys,
    will always stand up and saulute,
    will always recognize
    When we see OLD GLORY flying,
    theres alot of men dead,
    So we can sleep in peace at night,
    when we lay down our heads.

    Enough said!!

  • ChefnSurf says:

    “boaters who put it up, who do not want to be identified, say they don’t understand why”… Horse pucky … Of course they understand why … It was because “by law it had to be taken down”, that’s why … Well intentions aside, the end doesn’t always justify the means … Seems to be a common thread in todays society for both the sinners and the saints : “whatever I do is justified simply because I want it to be” … Welcome to planet Terra-Egocentric.

  • Debra B. says:

    Just to educate you, the American Flag is an all weather flag and there is a $100.00 solar flood light that illuminates the flag from dusk to dawn. It is in compliance with regulations. Unfortunately, there is someone out there that doesn’t see the beauty in Old Glory flying and symbolizing our patriotism to our Country, in respect to the servicemen and women who fight for our freedom and have given their lives for all of us. It wasn’t put up there just to be forgotten. She would have been continually monitored and take care of with respect.

  • Pam says:

    Is there still a fake palm tree out there somewhere?

  • Guest 4545 says:

    1. Coastal Management needs to do a better job in picking their battles. Common sense goes a long way.

    2. Hope Sutton of Coastal Management was obviously uncomfortable during the interview on TV and realizes that her employer threw her under the bus; or if she was the decision maker realizes she has opened a can of worms.

    Again common sense goes a long way!

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    …if you don’t own the land, you don’t have a right to erect ANYTHING.

    I love my country, I love the National Ensign, and I appreciate the sentiment toward veterans. That said, you know that if the flag remains, before long a Pirate or Wolfpack flag will show up, then a state flag, a Confederate battle flag, and before long it will start to resemble a disorganized version of that plaza in front of the U.N.

    Why couldn’t the Anonymous Patriots simply obtain permission to erect the flag?

    The island is starting to resemble a landfill as it is because the reserve still allows unlimited access without the necessary infrastructure to support it. It is basically an unregulated, unofficial public park and the island is slowly being destroyed because of it.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    Everything about illumination came much later in the discussion. They were all posted after my link to the flag manual.

    If the flag was illuminated, fine. If it was an all-weather flag, fine.

    That only leaves the issue of property rights….and that’s one that can’t be simply dismissed.

  • Ed says:

    Let er fly!! Jeez people, if somebody wants to put up a flag to support the men and woman of the red, white, and blue, let em’ do it. I don’t care if it is in a highway medium, a planter, or the middle of a national park. Let the flags fly and screw these stupid rules.

    As for as I’m concerned, an unjustified law is no law at all.

    GOD Bless the United States!!!

  • Guest77 says:

    I am tired of the proliferation of American flags everywhere I turn.

    When coming into Wilmington on 74/76, as you cross the Brunswick River, someone has planted a flag in the marsh.

    I always enjoyed looking at the beautiful, natural marshland, but the flag is an eyesore and takes away from its beauty.

    Let’s display the flag on Armistice Day and July 4th and put them away the rest of the time. They can and do add to the chaotic commercial environment.

    I’m as patriotic as the next man, but too much flag waving is . . . well, too much.

  • Guest says:

    You’re right, I think it was a scum bag that removed the flag.

  • virgogirl says:

    That’s exactly what my thought was. Last time I was out there, they also added a parking meter right next to the fake palm tree. That tree has been there for a very long time. Why doesn’t anyone complain about that and have it removed? Not that I want it to be, but it’s the same principle.

  • Proud American says:

    You are so wrong, what a stupid comment!!! I am so very proud we have Americans like the ones who erected this flag.

  • Proud American says:

    Way to go! Where is the “common sense” here. We are talking about our American Flag not a piece of trash.

  • Proud American says:

    Totally ashamed to think there is someome in our wonderful country that would write a statement like that. Very Ashamed…so sad. I think you should try living in another country for a while, I bet you would change your tune. I will pray for you.

  • Proud American says:

    They are anonymous because they do not want the glory for doing somethig so wonderful. They took their time and money to do something we all can enjoy. God Bless the men or women who did this for all of us!

  • Proud American says:

    Well Said!!!!!

  • TheMasterOfTheJerkOut says:

    because of what will happen to it. Have you seen the scum bags who go out there these days? The similar bunch of budding iconoclasts who make it a game to leave litter on the island and break church signs will have recently heard their professor ranting about how imperial and immoral America is (we’ll just overlook the fact that the professor hasn’t packed his/her bags and accepts government paychecks but I digress) and feel compelled to deface or simply steal the flag. Bad idea.

  • Guest says:

    Picking their battles? The battle was brought to them, without their consent. That’s not a battle, that’s an ambush. This unknown group should find a more appropriate, and publiclly-accessible, place to fly the flag…and fly that flag respectably, taking it down nightly and making sure it doesn’t fly in the rain.

  • Guest2020 says:

    But they had no right to put it up on property that does not belong to them. I would be proud of Southerners with the guts to erect a Confederate Flag, but I wouldn’t condone them putting it on property that does not belong to them. I would be proud of Christians erecting a cross, but I would not condone them putting it on property that does not belong to them.

  • GuestLee says:

    Gee…I guess we better get back up to the moon and take it down.

  • Guest says:

    A display of shocking ignorance… When I read so many commentators accusing others of being anti patriotic or having the gall to “pray for” someone who doesn’t share their viewpoint, I am stupefied. How about this, folks: Had the NCDCM allowed the flag to remain, that means that anyone else could just as easily fly whatever kind of flag they want. An immigrant family could have gone and erected a flag from their country right next to it. Had the NCDCM left it, in a matter of weeks, some punk would have taken it down, burned it and replaced it with an anarchist flag.

    The point is – this isn’t an official state memorial. It isn’t someone’s backyard. Personal property is personal property. And their policy is that’s not allowed on the island. Period. If you come into my yard and erect a flag pole I have every right to take it down – because it’s NOT YOUR PROPERTY. Would this make me anti patriotic? I don’t care if everyone who drives by my house enjoys looking at it. It’s NOT THEIR PROPERTY EITHER.

    If the NCDCM allows group A to leave something on the island, they have to allow group B to do so as well. Don’t you see how unfair it is to allow SOME people to break the rules? This was an act of great intentions, but poor execution. Would it have been so difficult to draw up plans to “donate” this to the state? That way, it would not have been personal property and the Anonymous Patriots could have continued to volunteer their time to take care of the flag – costing the state and the citizens nothing. I hope the Patriots will at least try to work with the NCDCM. By them refusing to do so, it only makes them look stubborn.

  • GuestLee says:

    I agree with you on the others…..but the CONFEDERATE FLAG???? C’mon, Common. You had me until then!


    We don’t own the moon either, so let’s take that one down too!

    (Just jesting with you, Common.)

  • Guest says:

    Thank you for giving me hope. I was beginning to think there were no rational humans remaining in the area.
    Why didn’t the flag planters just put it on a dredge spoil that isn’t within the boundaries of the Reserve? It could have stood there for decades without anyone troubling it.
    To you flag wavers; Please take a course in U.S. history and government so that you don’t embarass yourselves with public displays of ignorance.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    ….I can simply come and park my truck in your yard, right?

    You shouldn’t be proud of having no understanding of property rights.

    Let’s go one step further – did someone raise the National Ensign at 0800, and retire the colors at sunset? Or was it illuminated at night? Because if neither of those requirements was met, it violates the US Flag Manual and common flag etiquette.

    It obviously wasn’t MY post that was stupid, son….

  • GuestLee says:

    Right….try putting either one of those up tonight on your own property…..then expect phone calls, emails, the media, and upset neighbors on your doorstep tomorrow.

  • Guest says:

    You obviously don’t realize the true protocol of flying the American Flag. if the flag is illuminated at night (which it is) then it may be flown throughout the night. If the flag is an inclement weather resistant flag, (which it is) it may be flown in inclement weather.

  • Dianna Goforth says:

    I think that flag is beautiful as it waves. What a wonderful gesture and whomever did this is to commended. Look out there and see that flag gives one a since of pride. How great it is to be an American!
    Huge Thank You to who was responsible. Sure hope with all the uproar in America right now that flag continues to wave to remind us of what a great land we live in even with all the troubles. Thank you again to the ones responsible.

  • Guest says:

    what a joke! what exactly do they manage anyway?

  • justin says:

    Sounds like the folks who oversee Masonboro Island are more than willing to work with the group to resolve the problem…just goes to show you, don’t put a flag pole where you wouldn’t put a plastic flamingo…Masonboro is a nature preserve, not someone’s front lawn.

  • Robo says:

    Masonboro is a natural preserve, but the American flag is our national emblem.

  • Guest says:

    I find it sad and disgraceful that you can compare the American Flag with plastic flamingos. People seem so intelligent until they start talking. You should be thanking the Stars and stripes that you are able to post comments like that on here.

  • scubaboys says:

    No disrespect intended but your comment comparing the american flag to a plastic flamingo speaks for itself and the validity of your statement.

  • Guest461 says:

    THAT is one of THEE most ludicrous statements I’ve seen posted on this site! If you don’t work for the “Coastal Management” group, you should go get a job with them now! You would likely get into top “management” at first draw. The engraved flag pole and flag was put there to honor the men and women that have fought and perished to preserve the very freedom that flag stands for. It appears you know VERY LITTLE about that.

    That flag was a beautiful thing to see with Masonboro in the background for all of the locals and the snowbirds traveling our waterway. It is not a piece of trash, a pink flamingo, a busted-up junk sailboat or a pile of tourist trash. Your comparison of the flag of the United States of America to a pink flamingo is one of the boldest and flagrant examples of idiocy I’ve witnessed.

    Bear in mind as well, that Masonboro belongs to the people. The state may hold title, but it IS the front lawn of the people of New Hanover County!

  • Jaynor says:

    Its a shame you would compare the American Flag to a plastic flamingo!! There once was a time this would not have even been an issue!

  • Guest461 says:

    So, tell us “Coastal Management” bigshots with nothing better to do. Answer us ALL a big and long term question. Why is it that a scuttled 26 foot sailboat has been littering the south end of Masonboro island for nearly five years without being removed or even attempted to be cleaned up? When I first found it, it was near salvagable with legible state registration numbers, intact sails/rigging and hull with the stench of diesel fuel and onboard sewage leaking onto the beach. It is still there, full of sand now, all broken up with pieces all over the place. Fiberglass chunks, pieces of mast, wire cable and rudder parts for FIVE LONG YEARS!!! You never did a damned thing about that but let it lay and rot as an eyesore to your…no, OUR pristine island where you want nothing but birds to set foot on. In addition, there are three other scuttled vessels abandoned on the back side of the island with the very same issues, simply left to rot, contaminate and spoil. ZERO attempts to remediate! But you just HAD to take that flag down, huh? A real thorn in your side I suppose…difficult to endure. Nice work.

    So, answer the question without a bunch of political lip smacking. Why is it that you feel compelled to remove something that is obviously done in honor of our country’s Hero’s, but you can’t seem to manage the junk that gets dumped there and remains for years without the first hand being laid on it to clean it up?

    “Coastal Management” my sorry backside! You’re even more worthless that our grandiose state DOT and you don’t even have to plan a street or pave a highway. Can’t even keep a little island clean, much less perform “Coastal Management”! Just another “facade” sucking on the taxpayer billfolds providing nothing other than a nuisance.

    It is organizations like yours that I will do my very best to eliminate or reform into something useful and practical. You are nothing other than a precise example of what is wrong with this country today, from an economic, a functional and political standpoint.

    Masonboro is a beautiful place and I feel very privileged to have access to her. I really can’t think of a more appropriate place to locally honor those that have fought so bravely and died protecting the freedoms we all get to enjoy. It is a shame that your vision is so shallow.

  • Du says:

    That was one of the most scathing, yet well-written commentaries I’ve seen. Right from the heart, I can tell. Good job…I think it’s awesome to get in the face of these “above the small people” nimrods. They need to be kept in check.

  • Guest31415 says:

    Very well said!

  • robo says:

    Sounds like Hope Sutton thinks of the American flag as just another piece of trash in the inlet.

  • Virginia Horton says:

    I feel the patriotic men or women who put the flag up are not afraid of getting into trouble. I think they do not want to be recognized for the great and wonderful deed. Seeing that flag makes one feel a great sense of pride. When we see such a sight, it makes us stop and reflect on this great nation we call home. This did not cost the state a dime, but has given us so much. Whom ever did this took their own money and time to give all of us something very special. I would like to say “thank you”. Where is the “common sense” here?? Are we forgetting the beauty, the pride we feel, every time we look on that hill. For someone to think of such a great way to honor our men and women of the military and then to share it with hundreds of people. I am very proud to be an American and these people say it all!!! Let’s keep America, our sense of pride, and belief in God alive!

  • Guest666 says:

    The State will probably install a flagpole there at a later date, after expensive studies, consultations, surveying and other BS the state is good for. In short, it will probably cost the taxpayers $300,000 for a $500 flagpole. Welcome to the world of politics and corruption.

  • Proud American says:

    Where is the “common sense” here. We are talking about an American Flag not a piece of trash. It is beautiful and very well done. No cost to anyone but the people who put their money and time into erecting something beautiful that hundreds of people can enjoy. I do not feel they think they will get into trouble if they come forward. My thought is they do not want the credit for doing something so wonderful and something straight from the heart. Each one of us should be so thankful that people have such a great pride in America. We owe so much to the men and women who serve and have served in the military. We need to get back to the basics and stop this everything has to be so politically correct. I would like to personally thank the person or persons who gave us this beautiful flag, to say God bless you. Wish we had more people like you.

  • anonymous patriot says:

    This is absolutely rediculous!! We are talking about an AMERICAN FLAG!!! This is AMERICA!!! I have personally seen several boats come to a complete stop in the Intercoastal Waterway to admire this beautiful expression of thanks and honor. Some patriots on these boats take pictures of the Flag, others I have seen actually salute it!
    The true patriots that raised this symbol of freedom not only did a terrific job with the location, but the protocol was perfect. The Flag wears a plaque explaining her purpose, which is what every single American Flag is intended to do. Show thanks for our Freedom!!! The Flag also carries a light mounted on the pole itself shining on our Glory all night??? This was obviously done out of pure respect, superb planning, and true patriotic dedication to the men and women who have faught and died for the people that took it down. Makes me sick!!!

  • Proud American says:

    Well Said. Wish there were more Americans like you! God Bless you and the others.

  • Guest5 says:

    Where is the “common sense”here? This is the American Flag not some piece of trash. Why does everything have to be so politically correct. It is beautiful and well done. No cost to anyone except the people who erected it. I would like to say thank you and God bless you to the ones responsible. Wish we had more people like you. People who are proud to be Americans. Proud to honor the men and women who serve and have served in the military. Again, thank you and God Bless You!

  • GUEST says:


  • justin says:

    Geez, talk about piling on!

    At no time did I compare the American flag to a pink flamingo…I specifically said “flag pole”. If you woke up in the morning and someone had erected a 30 foot pole in your front yard, you’d be a little upset as well. Geez people, get a grip and read what people actually write.

    Secondly, if you’re going to wrap yourself in the patriotism of flying a flag, you best show the American flag the respect she deserves. According to the national flag code, the American flag shouldn’t be flown in inclement weather and should only be flown from sunrise to sunset, unless properly illuminated. Who’s responsible for boating out there to bring the flag up and down at night or during the rain?

    I fly TWO American flags in my own yard – showing the flag the respect she deserves by bringing her down at night and during bad weather. The same cannot be said for the shredded flag left flying over Masonboro, can it?

  • Guest says:

    Very well stated Justin…some people are far too wrapped up in their own patriotism and symbolism to accept there are responsibilities, procedures and consequences for erecting a flag pole -or any structure- on private and state-protected property.

    Ideally, a memorial like this should be accessible to EVERYONE, not just folks who own boats or those who visit Masonboro Island. If I could, I would paint the sands of our area beaches red, white and blue to honor our military – but that’s not my right. And I wouldn’t force my beliefs on others in such a public setting either.

    People are so quick to jump down each other’s throats when they think someone is challenging their patriotism in this society…we should be spending more time listening.

  • justin says:

    Uhhh, best re-read my post. I said “flag pole”, not an American flag.

  • Guest says:

    Wow..he didn’t compare a flamingo to the American flag…he said flagpole.

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