Since American Independence some 250 years ago, we have been blessed to have only one flag flown over this great nation. For that, I am thankful. That is certainly not the case for our great city, Pensacola. Anyone who knows much about our history, knows that the Spanish, French, British, Confederate and, of course, the United States flags have flown over Pensacola. Why is this important to our Pensacola history? I make no claim of being a history expert, such as the likes of UWF President Judy Bense or John Appleyard, but I know we have been influenced in some way by all five flags. Other than the U.S. flag, one that stands out to me is the Spanish flag. The Spanish were our allies in the Battle of Pensacola in 1779 against the British. We have monuments all over Pensacola in their honor, as well as many streets named after great leaders under our Spanish flag.
I moved to Pensacola 50 years ago and I was impressed with our rich history. We are known as America’s first settlement for a colony led by Tristan de Luna in 1559. Pensacola was settled in 1698 and has flown these various flags for hundreds of years. We are truly a City of Five Flags. Since 1950, we have celebrated this history with one of our great events, The Fiesta of Five Flags, which celebrates our history for many days. Pensacola’s history is so important that at planning events we discuss the economic impact it has on our tourist industry, which is substantial.
I wanted to give a little history about our five flags before I explained what happened last week at the County Commission meeting. We had an agenda item to discuss replacing the Confederate Battle Flag at the County-owned Pensacola Bay Center with a Confederate National Flag similar to the one flying at City Hall. After many speakers and much discussion, the Commission voted unanimously to replace the Confederate Battle Flag. When the discussion began about which flag to replace it with, a motion was made and seconded to remove all flags at the Pensacola Bay Center except the U.S. flag and the State of Florida flag. It was never on the agenda to take such drastic action, the public and media were certainly not notified and it was not discussed at our morning agenda workshop. In my opinion, this action should have been postponed and all interested parties notified. For this and other reasons, I voted against this action.
You may ask, isn’t “The City of Five Flags” a City issue, and aren’t you are a County Commissioner? The City is a part of Escambia County and when I moved here 50 years ago, I moved to Pensacola, Escambia County, although I have never resided in the City limits. Our history is countywide, which includes Century, Fort Pickens, Fort Barrancas, Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key. I am proud to be a resident of Pensacola, “The City of Five Flags”, the “Western Gate to the Sunshine State” and my hope is City Hall will continue to fly the five flags.