FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — Florida State Representative Pat Maney alongside Fort Walton Beach Mayor DIck Rynearson and Okaloosa Gas leader Gordon King reignited the eternal flame at the Fort Walton Beach city hall annex Tuesday night. The flame, originally placed in the 70s, has been broken for nearly a decade.
Rep. Maney said he noticed the flame was out one night and got with the city and Okaloosa Gas to solve the problem. After a year of work and cooperation, the flame was relit before the city council meeting on August 23.
“When I moved to Okaloosa County, this flame was burning and I was so impressed that this community,” said Rep. Maney. “I mean I was new to town, I was so impressed the community honored its veterans and deceased veterans.”
Okaloosa Gas crews completely gutted the original electric system and refurbished the monument. This new structure is said to last 10 years with a continuous feed of natural gas, but salt air and storms will corrode and erode some of the pieces over time.
“So the original one, the base and the latticework, all the ironwork around it that’s the same, we’ve just refurbished that,” said Mike Mortimer, Okaloosa Gas Marketing Superintendent. “The different part is the post and the actual burner head, that’s all new.”
The eternal flame is a symbol to honor all U.S. Veterans. The plaque on the structure reads ‘Eternal Flame donated by Rogers-Hinson American Legion Auxillary Unity 235, November 11, 1973. Fort Walton Beach, Fla. To the veterans of all wars in the United States.’
King with Okaloosa Gas said they are committed to keeping this structure working.
“If the city ever decides to relocate their facilities, we’ll be back to relocate the monument,” said King. “It’s part of our community, we’re part of your community and we thank you for having the opportunity to be here.”