A US company plans to spend $1 billion to erect a flagpole taller than the Empire State Building to ignite a sense of pride and national unity, but it has sparked a lot of controversy.
Morrill Worcester, the founder of Worcester Wreath, the company leading the project, stated that the structure called the Freedom Park Flagpole will be built in the state of Maine to “connect Americans and remind them of the history of defending freedom and healing a divided nation.”
Worcester aims to complete the 445-meter tall flagpole in 10 years, making it the tallest flagpole in the world. It will hoist a larger-than-life American flag, surpassing the size of a baseball field. Visitors will use elevators to reach the observation deck at the top of the structure, which will be taller than the Empire State Building, allowing them to see far into Canadian territory.
Morrill also plans to build a village with “living museums,” where veterans can share stories of history, along with various other structures covering an area of over 4,000 hectares.
However, this plan is generating controversy in Columbia Falls, the town nearest to the flagpole. The majority of the town’s 485 residents are concerned that the massive flagpole could damage the natural landscape and have doubts about the project’s environmental impact.
Some residents fear that this pristine land could turn into a “tourist trap” with numerous shops and shopping centers springing up. To complete the project, the construction team will have to clear paths, create large parking lots in the vast green forests, and build temporary housing for thousands of workers.
“This will be the last wilderness on the East Coast of the United States,” said Marie Emerson, whose husband is a longtime blueberry farmer and manages a research nursery for a university in the area.
Marie believes that the unspoiled scenery is what makes Maine unique. A project like the world’s tallest flagpole could threaten the habitats of many living organisms.
Worcester Wreath, owned by Morrill and his wife, has previously donated millions of wreaths placed on the graves of US soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery during memorial occasions. This activity has put Columbia Falls on the map as a patriotic tourist attraction.
Visitors driving into this small town will encounter American flags and patriotic slogans everywhere. However, when the company proposed the project in 2022, most members of the town council were shocked by its enormous scale.
Columbia Falls residents quickly took sides. Some sympathize with Morrill as a businessman wanting to develop tourism and revive an economically declining area. Others view him as an “eagle” trying to “impose his views of America on others.”
“The project is different from my vision. I enjoy hunting and fishing, not crowds. It’s a bit selfish, but that’s my sentiment,” said Charlie Robbins, a retired employee of the Maine Department of Transportation.
In March, Columbia Falls residents voted in favor of a 6-month moratorium on large-scale development projects to allow time for the necessary regulations to be established.
While the debate rages on, some people find it challenging to criticize the project without being seen as unpatriotic. One resident expressed concern after stating, “I don’t want to see a flagpole every time I look out my window” in a recent meeting.
Peter Doak, a former school principal in the area, believes that arguments suggesting a large flagpole is an “eyesore” are inappropriate. He posed the question, “Why do they feel uncomfortable seeing the flag through their window but have no objections to nearby cell towers or wind turbines?”