The Flame is not really a flame; it’s orange and yellow spotlights trained on a column of steam that rises from the top of the Tower. It’s not eternal, either; it’s been out several times since the Tower was dedicated in 1926. The last time was in March of this year, and that’s because the Memorial deliberately shut it off in protest when it learned that the mayor was cutting its budget by $620,000.
Local businesses and citizens donated enough cash to turn the Flame back on and keep it steaming through July 4. And now comes word that a new fund-raising effort has brought in enough cash to maintain the Flame through Independence Day of next year. Everyone seems pleased with this result, although some locals are ready to throw the off switch if taxpayers ever again have to foot the bill.
Flame has been a mortal enemy to many Roadside attractions. But this one, the biggest and fakest and most expensive of all, really should be kept going. Yes, it’s an extravagant use of energy, but far less than, say, a 3-day artillery barrage on Ypres, or 3 minutes in Iraq. The cost of war is always greater than the cost of electricity to power attractions that remember war and honor our war dead.
Huzzah to those who were thoughtful enough to donate money ot keep the “flame” burning. As a former resident of Kansas City, this was always considered a landmark on the downtown skyline. The first time my husband came to visit me, I took him downtown to show him the eternal flame. This is extremely impressive and is a source of inspiration for people to come see. Too bad that the former mayor left the budget in such a shambles that the current mayor had to make cuts everywhere just to get back in the black again (mom still lives in K.C. and keeps me abreast of the news). There is something to be said about patriotism. Those who built the memorial then and those who helped to keep it lit now feel the need to show that we will never forget those who served – be it World War I or the wars of today.