CRESTVIEW — Patriotism is on full display in Warriors Hall, which features military flags, as well as flags related to Crestview's history. Some were donated by Okaloosa residents.
Crestview Police Department Public Information Officer Brian Hughes said the idea for the display came from former Crestview Fire Chief Joe Traylor.
Traylor "remarked in a council meeting right after the City Council agreed to buy what became the Whitehurst Municipal Building that it'd be cool to have the flags of all the branches of the military displayed in the auditorium that became Warriors Hall," Hughes said.
"I remembered his comment years later and discussed it informally with Rae Schwartz, who is president of the Friends of the Arts, which is tasked with developing programs and fundraisers to enhance Warriors Hall," he said.
The company Hughes contacted to source some of the flags was strict about protocol when it came to the display.
Staff members at the Flag Lady's Flag Store in Columbus, Ohio "didn't approve of placing the U.S. flag amid other historic flags on the east wall," Hughes said. "I had to assure them there was already a U.S. flag in the hall that was properly displayed to the left of the platform before they'd consent to include the 15-star, 15-stripe flag in our order!
"Even still, they insisted on sending us an eagle to top its flag staff rather than the spear tip all the other flags have, because protocol says if you have an ornamental topper on an indoor U.S. flagpole or staff, it must be a gold eagle."
The display includes commemorative plaques for each flag, plus two larger plaques describing the project.
"The most difficult flag to find was the Muscogee Nation. None of the flag stores I contacted carried it, plus there were some questions about what the flag actually looked like," Hughes said.
"I found historic descriptions of a flag developed by the Muscogee in the mid-19th century. The problem was solved when I contacted the Muscogee Nation tribal government and their very helpful public information officer not only addressed my questions, she sent us a flag!
"The cost for the hardware and fringe for the flag was donated by Ann Spann, who is of Muscogee Creek heritage, and the Baker Block Museum," Hughes said.
Flags in the display are:
•U.S. Merchant Marine
•U.S. Marine Corps
•U.S. Coast Guard
•U.S. Air Force
EAST WALL (in chronological order of sovereignty)
•The Muscogee Nation
•Great Britain's colonial flag
•The Republic of West Florida
•The United States of America
•The Confederate States of America
Hughes said the Confederate flag is the "correct national 'stars and bars' flag," not the 'rebel' flag that causes passionate debate.
The display was dedicated July 11, 2016, in commemoration of the 240th year of American independence and the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the city of Crestview.
Hughes said the U.S. flag represents the heritage of the people who founded our country, the sacrifices on the battlefield of brave men and women to secure and maintain freedoms, our republic's promises for each citizen as enumerated in the Bill of Rights, and the power given to each citizen to shape our country's future.
On the trips he's taken to Crestview's Sister City of Noirmoutier, France, he said, "I take pride when I see Old Glory displayed on homes and in public streets as a symbol of America's friendship and support in times of peace and tragedy, and how it continues to be a beacon of hope and a promise of freedom for so many.
"It's amazing all the things you see in our flag if you stop and think about it!"