SALISBURY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – A year-long plea from veterans in Salisbury is now gaining more attention.

Since last Friday, dozens of vets and their supporters have been rallying at the Bell Tower Green Park in downtown Salisbury. They’ve been trying to get an American flag placed in the park.

“We love our country. We love our flag. It represents everyone that has been born in this country, that has immigrated to this country,” said Rowan County Veteran Tom Thompson.

Over a year ago, the veterans say they submitted a petition to the mayor to get the flag erected. The mayor forwarded that letter to the former city manager. 

Still, no flag has been placed in the park.

Veteran Michael Catus says he can not believe the amount of red tape that’s been involved in getting an American flag put up at the park.

“A lot of veterans and civilians have died for that flag to give us what we have today,” said Catus. “I guess the best word is flabbergasted that it’s not standing at this park.”

Initially, the park was owned and built by a private organization, the Bell Tower Green Foundation. It was gifted to the city in October 2021. But Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander said just because it’s now public property doesn’t mean they can bypass governmental processes.

“City business and government business is not instant,” she said.

The mayor says as part of their deal with the former owners, the city agreed not to make any changes to the park without going through a formalized process. It’s why they recently created a citizen’s advisory board to deal with issues surrounding Bell Tower Green. The public board will be the ones to decide whether to place a flag. 

The city is currently taking applications for board members.

But the veterans are frustrated it’s taken ten months to form that committee.

“While I could apologize for it not being done, I’m really not going to because we have to prioritize the work, and there’s only so many hours in the day,” said Mayor Alexander.

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The city has agreed that the flag issue will be first on the agenda once the board is formed. They also say the board will be comprised of members representing the city’s diversity.

Until then, the vets say they’ll continue to wave their flags at the park.

“As long as it takes, we’ll be here Monday through Friday,” said Thompson.

“I’m not giving up. I’m a jarhead,” said Catus.