AKRON, Ohio (WJW)– At a time when Americans seem tremendously divided, a diverse group in Akron gathered on Tuesday to share a display of American flags they hope will help send a message of unity.
Police officers, firefighters, state troopers, veterans, community volunteers and elected officials got together to hang flags on three different bridges overlooking Interstate 77 at the southern doorstep of the city of Akron.
“It binds us together and literally you will see all sorts of people out here today, old, young some people are better off than others. But we are just all here together and to me it just warms my heart. We are all coming together around the flag,” said State Rep. Tavia Galonski. She lives near the Cole Avenue bridge where she was joined by Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan, police officers and veterans displaying the flags.
“This is to tell everyone that we all need to be one group. We don’t need separate group. We just all need to get together and be one group,” said Air Force Veteran David Humelsine.
From the highway below, drivers responded to the effort by honking their horns in approval.
“This is what we rally around and how do we try to be best and we try to live up to the founding words, you know what I mean, that all men are created equal,” Horrigan said.
Horrigan noted that tens of thousands of cars pass under the bridges each day.
“This is kind of that symbol for that and, you know, the country was even founded on a protest and so as we look at all of that as it comes around, this is sort of that symbol to say what we are this is a great country,” he said.
The effort has been done for three consecutive years with approval from the Ohio Department of Transportation.
This was the first year that three bridges, including the Wilbeth Road bridge and the Catawba Avenue bridge, were decorated.
“I know how I feel when I pass this area often is the positivity ,” said Akron Police Lt. Michael Miller.
“It’s a friendly reminder that we are all in it together we are united and it is a community message that, hopefully, they share and embrace with us.”