Picture of the Century?

December 30, 1999
The US Flag is lowered for the last time over the Panama Canal

turn4.jpg (22311 bytes)

turn5.jpg (16736 bytes)

In a surprise move, the United States requested that a small ceremony be held on December 30, 1999 -- at around dusk the US flag was lowered for the last time at the Panama Canal's Administration Building site.  With approximately 200 people in attendance including US Ambassador Simon Ferro, a 10-man delegation of US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines silently lowered the US Flag from this place where it had flown proudly since 1914.  On December 31st at larger planned ceremonies, the Panamanian flag will be flying by itself. 

This obvious political expediency on the part of the current US Government to distance itself from the turnover of the Panama Canal is unexcuseable.  The Panamanians have said that it was to save the United States from "embarrassment".  There is NO excuse for this sorry exit from a place where so many Americans of both political parties served so admirably building, maintaining and defending the Panama Canal.  Both countries deserved better than this "stealth" action perpetrated by a President who just couldn't be bothered. It is an insult!

Photographs by AP/Scott Dalton

January 2, 2000