Manchester WWII Vet Wants More Flags on Main Street

World War II veteran Bernie Brennan says he is determined to continue his protest outside Town Hall until more American flags are raised on Main Street or his health goes out.

The saying goes that you can't fight city hall. But don't tell that to Bernie Brennan – because that's precisely what he's trying to do. 

Brennan, 86, may be familiar to many in town over the last few weeks - he's the guy who's been standing outside of Town Hall with a sandwich board around his neck that reads: "INSTALL AMERICAN FLAGS NORTH ON MAIN STREET." 

A Navy veteran who served during World War II, Brennan is adamant that he wants to see more flags on Main Street in downtown Manchester. So adamant, in fact, that he offered to purchase and donate 40 flags himself. 

When the Board of Directors discussed Brennan's plan recently, they agreed to a  compromise that would see 20 additional flags installed on a portion of Main Street. Some directors noted the difficulty of installing the additional flags, since some of them would have to be hung on utility posts, and removing them in the winter or in the event of inclement weather, while others stated that they did not believe the American flag was intended to serve as a decoration. 

"Does Arlington National Cemetery have too many flags?" Brennan said when asked his opinion on whether or not the flags could be construed as a decoration. 
But Brennan withdrew his offer after learning of the board's decision - he wants all 40 flags hung on Main Street or nothing. 

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"He's very focused on adding more flags," said General Manager Scott Shanley, who added that Brennan has sent numerous communications to the town and the Board of Directors since they last discussed the issue. 

For about the past two weeks, come rain or shine, Brennan has chosen to stand outside Town Hall holding his sign asking for more flags. Motorists honk or wave as they pass him by, many likely oblivious to his cause. 

But Brennan could care less. He wants his flags. 

"I think it's American to support patriotism," he told Patch this week, adding that he intended to continue his protest until the flags were installed or "until my health goes out." 

As of Wednesday, Brennan's protest had doubled in size, as Rusty Burnett, 66, joined him on Center Street holding his own sign asking for more flags. 

Burnett said he has known Brennan for about 10 years, and when he heard about his protest, "I figured I'd come down here and show him some support." 

When asked why, Burnett said he wouldn't mind seeing more flags on Main Street as well.

Jerry O'Connor October 05, 2012 at 04:57 PM
I’m planning on securing a package of materials to donate to the auction and have offered my services to entertain attendees. Perhaps Mr. Brennan could curtail his Town Hall picketing for a few days and make an effort to secure donations for this event (perhaps offer a flag to residents or businesses that provide a suitable donation?) and spread the word about this worthwhile effort. Anyone wishing to donate cash or an auction item can contact Barbara Mozzer (a former Town employee) by email (Mozzerb@manchesterct.gov) or 860-818-7368. Residents or businesses who would like to learn more about the Purple Heart Homes program and how they might be able to make a donation or volunteer their time can contact the program’s regional director, Vicki Thomas at 203-984-2138.
Jain Hayles October 05, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Mr. O'Connor, Would you mind if I posted the information about the Purple Heart Homes Program and the fund-raising event on my Facebook page? I was completely unaware of this program, and would like to spread the word.
Jerry O'Connor October 05, 2012 at 06:35 PM
I'm not an official with the program, Jain, but my wife met with Vicki Thomas and I know they're looking to get the word out ASAP since this is a bit of a last-minute event. So sure, spread the word if you can!
Jon Crickmore October 11, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Mrs Covill, The article says nothing about idiots wrapped in flags running up and down the street. Yes there are many people that use our flag in an inappropriate way. Mr Brennan is asking that flags be placed North on main street. 1 flag or 1 million flags will never be decorations. Shame on those people who now make our flag about politics. Thanks again Mr Brennan. The world needs more people like you.
Tanner December 11, 2012 at 07:21 PM
The phone number you have above is incorrect. That is my phone number and I have been receiving numerous phone calls.


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