The flag is back.
Two days after a retired firefighter kicked up a fuss about there being no Stars and Stripes outside a Fells Point post office, a maintenance worker hung a flag yesterday from one of the building's two wooden doors - the first time in two years that the colors have been displayed there.
"I think it's wonderful," Bernard Muller, the former firefighter, said when told of the new banner. "All I wanted them to do was put the doggone flag up. Not having a flag there was a slap in the face to the boys who are dying every day."
Employees of the post office on South Wolfe Street said residents of nearby rowhouses had complained about the spotlights shining on the banner at night.
A spokeswoman for the Postal Service's Baltimore headquarters, Freda Sauter, said yesterday that she and her colleagues had been unaware of the flag's removal until they read an article about it in Wednesday's editions of The Sun.
"We're glad you brought it to our attention, because we do fly a flag at every post office," Sauter said. After looking into the matter, her office found that not only had residents complained, but someone had broken the spotlights that shone on the flag and, ultimately, the flag itself had been stolen from the flagpole that extended from the building's facade.
When the post office opened there in January 2002, the Postal Service asked the city for permission to install a flagpole in the sidewalk, but it was denied for lack of adequate space, Sauter said.
Once the pole was installed in the facade, anyone seeking to raise or lower the flag was forced to gain access to it via a window in an upstairs office, a space rented by a security company. That proved impractical.
After the flag disappeared two years ago, Sauter said, the post office's manager hung another flag inside the building.
The flag that hung yesterday on one of the sliding wooden doors will be there only temporarily, Sauter said. The Postal Service has retained a professional flag installer to rig a pulley to the flagpole on the facade so that the Stars and Stripes can be raised or lowered by someone standing on the sidewalk.
"We'll hoist it up every morning and take it down every evening," she said. "We want that flag flying."