SAND AND SEA
FRIENDS REVIVE TRADITION
death shocked his
family, fellow divers
and all who knew
him. The following
Fourth of July, longtime
Hennessey and Angelique
decided to carry on
his tradition and
erected the flag on
the Boiler Wreck.
A few more friends
joined in the tradition
and the flag has flown every Fourth of July in the decade
since his death. The flag is tethered to a 35-foot aluminum
mast and fastened to the wreck to help it weather storms.
About five years ago, solar lighting was added.
The flag symbolizes hope through a storm or hurricane as it
did through last year’s Hurricane Dorian when local news stations
filmed it still flapping in wind above the waves. For those
hunkered down in their homes, it was a comfort that if the flag
was still standing then so was the rest of the community. Eventually
the winds took it down but the pole was later recovered.
“We all miss Mike’s spirit and his undying love of the
environment,” Hennessey said. “He was so passionate about
the preservation of the reefs and frustrated that the decisionmakers
didn’t recognize the damage they did to the reefs by
dumping sand on the beach.
“The sand always
washes out, clouding
the water and
blocking the sunlight
that is essential
for the marine life
to live. It’s killing
our most precious
still haven’t been
able to stop the vicious
cycle, but we
will continue to erect
Mike’s flag every
July Fourth to keep
the awareness and
And so, the legacy
of Mike’s flag is
with that of the SS
Breconshire in a fitting
memorial to the
man who loved it so much. They will forever be the ship and
the soul that lost their way in the darkness.
Because the mounting of the flag is subject to ocean and
atmospheric conditions, it’s never known exactly when it will
happen, but sometime around the Fourth of July it will suddenly
reappear in all its glory as a poignant reminder to protect
the Earth’s fragile underwater reefs and their inhabitants.
This rare family photo shows, from left, Leo
Burke, Jeannie Burke, Tom Burke and Mike
Blatus sharing some time together.
Different flags over the years have marked the