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Why there's no flag atop Marine museum

Date published: 6/8/2014

The National Museum of the Marine Corps would like to respond to Jen Nette's May 5 letter to the editor.

I thank her for the letter expressing concern about the lack of a U.S. flag atop the Marine Corps Memorial structure in Quantico, by which I assume she means the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

There are a number of reasons for the absence of a flag at the top of the Museum.

Architecturally, the award-winning design of the National Museum of the Marine Corps was created by the architectural firm of Fentress-Bradburn to be "evocative" of the Iwo Jima flag raising, not a literal re-creation of it. By Ms. Nette's letter, it appears that we were successful in that regard.

However, by not installing a flag, the structure could also represent an artillery piece ready to fire, an aircraft taking off, a Marine with his rifle at port arms or any of a number of other interpretations in addition to the obvious Iwo Jima reference.

Structurally, the upper portion of the Museum building, which we refer to as the mast, was not designed to withstand the torquing forces that would be caused by a flag in the wind more than 200 feet above the ground.

There is no mechanism present that would allow for a flag to be raised or lowered, nor is there sufficient hoist length on the mast to properly lower a flag to half-staff during designated times of mourning or remembrance.

A large flag, proportional in size to the structure, would also potentially block the aircraft anti-collision light atop the mast as well as cast a shadow over the quarter acre of glass atop the central gallery.

Finally, there are two flagpoles on the grounds of the Museum at a central point of the parking lot that fly both the U.S. and Marine Corps flags at all times, day or night.

Gwenn Adams


The writer is public relations chief at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.