The day America sets aside to honor its veterans, many visitors to Jacksonville's Veterans Memorial Mall noticed the eternal flame was not burning.
The city said it learned two weeks ago that the self-starter built into the marble pedestal of the flame had stopped working, so when the wind blows out the flame, it has to be manually restarted by someone with a lighter.
Because the marble-covered ground around the pedestal has to be dug up to fix the flame, city leaders decided to wait to make the repairs until after the football season, when traffic in the surrounding sports complex drops off.
Harrison Conyers of the city's office of veterans affairs said it was unfortunate the flame was out much of Veterans Day, but the wind kept blowing it out.
The city plans a $20,000 repair project to not only fix the self-starter on the eternal flame, but also repair damage done by skateboarders and add an additional panel so more names of Jacksonville's war dead can be added.
"We're sorry the flame was out but it was something that was really out of our control," Conyers said Thursday. "Our staff was out working at the parade yesterday. There were multiple events going on all over town. We did the best we could."
The city is coming up with a schedule to have people check on the flame and relight it as necessary, but there is no way to ensure the eternal flame is constantly burning until permanent repairs are made.
"Could we have re-run the electric line in the last two or three days? Probably. But it would have meant tearing up all the marble that is out here. We could not have fixed that quickly," Conyers said. "So you would have had a flame but you would have had a monument that is defaced."