Travelers on U.S. Highway 160 between Durango and Bayfield might have noticed a new addition to the skyline this week: A 100-foot metal pole wielding an American flag about the size of two coach buses.
Jeff and Michal Searles, the flag’s owners, decided to erect the new flag to send a message of hope to their community when the United States seems to be falling apart, they said.
“It seems like America’s just tearing everything down right now. Why not build something?” Michal Searles said. “There’s still some good Americans out there. We’re still proud to be American.”
The family always wanted to put a flag on their property just west of Gem Village and found a 20-by-38-foot American flag online. Michal welded the flag pole – “It wasn’t enough at 50 feet. We had to keep going,” she said – and with the help of a few coworkers, built a road and brought in a crane to hoist the pole in place.
“I didn’t have intentions to put up one that big. But I figured if I was going to put one up, I should do one that’s big enough for everyone to see,” Jeff said.
The flag is visible from at least 7 miles away, depending on the direction, the couple said. They were worried it would attract complaints, but the public’s reaction on social media has been mostly positive. People are even weighing in on whether the flag needs more lighting.
“I’m not necessarily proud of all of my politicians, but I’m still proud of my country. I think our country needs a little more of that,” Jeff said.
On social media, some said it made their day; several supported the show of national pride.
“We kind of see on the news that everything’s just falling apart. But we’re not all falling apart. I hope it gives people some hope,” Michal said.