PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – A huge American flag that will fly high above Fort Gorges between Memorial Day and Labor Day was dedicated Saturday in a ceremony overlooking the entrance to Portland harbor.

The raising of the flag capped a two-year effort by ex-Marine William Whitten of Yarmouth to raise $11,500 for the project and win the approval of the City Council.

Critics had complained that the display of the flag was intended as a show of support for the war in Iraq, but Whitten maintained that he had no such purpose.

At the dedication ceremony in Fort Allen Park, Whitten said he hopes the 12-by-15-foot flag atop a 50-foot pole on the fort built in 1865 on a ledge at the mouth of Casco Bay will inspire pride in America.

“I just ask, from me to you, to think about the value of the American flag and what it means and what it stands for,” he said.

In addition to the pole and six flags, each of which is expected to last a year, Whitten provided solar panels to light the flagpole.

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