The following is a Letter to the Editor
As Carlsbad Patch , on Sept. 11, 2011 a group of locals hiked an area of La Costa known as, "the Switchbacks" where they often mountain bike, to put up a flag and plaque as a reminder to never forget 9/11 and to honor those we lost.
There are many rumors circulating about the flag. I would like to clarify and bring everyone interested up-to-date on where the situation stands. It's correct we stood an American Flag on 9-11-2011 on the high atop one of our favorite riding trails. About four weeks later the flag and the dedication plaque were missing.
Immediately rumors started pointing at kids. That didn't feel right to me. Even kids have more respect for the American flag than to steal it and the fact that the solar panel and flag’s light were not disturbed, directed me away from kids.
We put up a new flag (but did not replace the plaque). Three weeks later the second flag was gone. Both of these thefts occurred after dark and before 8:00 a.m. Each flag was more "burglar proofed" than the previous one. After the third flag was stolen a friend left a note for whoever was taking the flags stating we had permission to place the flag and overwhelming positive feedback for doing so. The note welcomed the person to discuss the issue of standing a flag there and left an email address to contact us.
The next day I was shocked to receive an email from a self-appointed, “America hater” who claimed that, "You can build it in concrete, reinforced steel, whatever; and we will use the tools necessary to remove your selfish act… Take down your monument, or we will do it for you – over and over and over and over again. We'll continue to remove whatever eyesore you feel you have the right to impose on public space. You will not build public monuments on public land. If you do they will be dismantled."
Our American flag is not a monument and definitely not an “eye sore.” It is a symbol of America, not a political statement or a bias. The thief never made an attempt to follow the proper channels inquiring about the flag, it's placement or it's possible removal. He simply didn't want it on the hill and removed it himself. After the first theft I didn't replace the plaque. What stood tall was only the American flag, no political message other than "Proud to be an American." On top of the hill there are a few benches and an Eagle Scout Kiosk which this “America hater” seems alright with, but it is the American flag that he has a problem with.
With the seriousness of what had erupted I made the decision that we would take the flag down. We don't want to start a conflict on our favorite hill that could result in the area not being open to the public or worse, someone getting hurt by the person that was stealing the flags.
and the FBI are aware of the issue. It has been explained to me that because the project was self-funded and it is on public land, legally leaving the flag on the hill is viewed as abandoned property and someone taking it is not considered stealing.
On our Tuesday night ride a group of us rode our favorite trail. We climbed to the top where a friend of mine, a Navy Seal asked, "Where's Our flag?" He had also helped stand it on the hill. This is a young man that has volunteered to give his life to protect America and the symbol of our freedom... it was an extremely hard conversation to have to tell him an “American” has an issue with the American flag erected there. My friend and so many others like him represent the true meaning of the American flag.
For now the Plaque is gone, the 4th flag is safe in my home and unless you had seen it on the hill many of you would never know that there had stood an American flag on top of the hill in support of all those who died on 9/11 and those who fight every day for our freedoms.
As of now we are standing down, we have a great respect for the trails and want everyone to enjoy the Switchbacks, we believe it’s best not to put them and our relationship with the land managers in jeopardy over one “American” person's skewed beliefs.
Please respect our decision to stand down and take no further action that could derail what we are trying to eventually accomplish. I hope we can have a flag back atop the Switchbacks one day soon.
Loud and Proud,