From an AP story:
BULLHEAD CITY, Ariz. – An "eternal" flame at Bullhead City's new veterans memorial park that only lasted until city officials received a $961 gas bill has been re-lit following complaints by veterans groups.The Medal of Honor Memorial at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Park alongside the Colorado River was lit onVeterans Day in November.When the bill arrived in late December, city officials were stunned."It caught us by surprise," City Manager Tim Ernster said Thursday. "What we decided to do for the time being is to turn the flame on...for special events, for Veterans Day, Fourth of July, Memorial Day — those types of activities."....Johnson said the flame is impressive, but city parks officials are looking at ways to put a smaller burner in place and only use the larger one at special events."We're looking at alternatives, because $1,000 a month in these economic times is certainly a consideration," Johnson said.
And the big question is: What was Bullhead thinking? Did it really not occur to anyone that gas is expensive? And of course, they probably didn't think about it much at all. It was just a harmless feelgood gesture that would warm everyone's heart and show our patriotism. What's the downside to honoring our troops?
And this really is symbolic of America's attitude towards military strength. It's all one big win-win for everyone. We get to look tough and feel good about ourselves and there's no need to worry about the bill. But of course, military strength has a price. Invading countries costs something and there does need to be a cost-benefit analysis to how expensive our pride is. For as much as these people used to declare that "Freedom ain't free," it always struck me that they really didn't understand what they were saying. To them, they were suggesting that the cost of freedom is the denial of freedom, while the whole point should have been the financial cost of freedom.
And in the case of this eternal flame, once they agreed to pay the bill, they're basically screwed. I mean, it does look disrespectful to extinguish the "eternal" flame after just one month. But $12,000 a year for a symbolic gesture? Forever?? This really did need to be thought through a little more. But again, this is the standard attitude of too many people. Our schools have to overcharge people for flavored popcorn and peanut brittle, while we pour billions into our military without much consideration for what we're getting in return. To not do so is unthinkable.
And don't get me wrong, I'm no diehard peacenik and definitely believe that America needs a strong military. But there needs to be more thought to all this than spending billions for symbolism. We stay in Iraq because it would send the wrong message if we left. In other words, we're spending billions and billions of dollars for a PR campaign that is counter-productive. Meanwhile, I just gave $5 for a stupid PTA raffle just so my kid's lunchroom could get a food processor. Something is wrong with that.