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Super Bowl to showcase Sylva

The picturesque old courthouse in Jackson County attracted FOX sports filmmakers to Sylva. Joe Pelligrino photo The picturesque old courthouse in Jackson County attracted FOX sports filmmakers to Sylva. Joe Pelligrino photo

Western North Carolinians tuning into the Super Bowl this Sunday might do a double take when they glimpse scenes of Sylva in the pre-game programming.

“The county was contacted by FOX Sports,” said Jackson County Manager Don Adams. “They located Jackson County basically because they were looking for courthouse scenes in North Carolina, and so when they searched courthouses in North Carolina, the Jackson County Library — the old courthouse — kept popping up.”

On Jan. 5, a camera crew came to town to film a segment called “Ragged Old Flag” featuring Congressional Medal of Honor winner Lance Corporal Kyle Carpenter and scenes of the courthouse as well as the Charters of Freedom display of flags and founding documents at nearby Mark Watson Park.

FOX aired a similar segment, also titled “Ragged Old Flag,” during the 2017 Super Bowl. That video uses the Johnny Cash song of the same name and features introductions from singer Harry Belafonte and Olympic gymnast Simone Biles. Modern patriotic scenes and historical re-enactments play during the song. 

Carpenter received the Congressional Medal of Honor on June 19, 2014, in recognition of his actions while serving in Afghanistan on Nov. 21, 2010. Carpenter and another Marine were manning a rooftop security post to defend the village of Marjah from a Taliban attack when the enemy attacked with hand grenades. 

“Without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own safety, Lance Corporal Carpenter moved toward the grenade in an attempt to shield his fellow Marine from the deadly blast. When the grenade detonated, his body absorbed the brunt of the blast, severely wounding him, but saving the life of his fellow Marine,” according to the Medal of Honor citation. Carpenter’s jaw and right arm were shattered, and he lost his right eye as well as most of his teeth. 

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Because Carpenter was driving out from Charlotte, Sylva’s location was perfect for the filming, said Adams. While it was the courthouse that initially attracted FOX Sports, the filmmakers were even more intrigued when the county sent a photo of Mark Watson Park with all the flags from the Sylva Rotary Club’s Flags for Heroes Program up. The program hosts Field of Honor events on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Veterans’ Day, during which American flags that each represent a different military veteran or service member are displayed. 

“The scenes that were shot were Mark Watson Park with the Charters of Freedom and the Flags for Heroes, the old courthouse outside area, and they also did some interviews with Mr. Carpenter inside the library and the Community Room,” said Adams. 

Adams said he expects the segment to air sometime before the national anthem. Kickoff for Super Bowl LIV between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2, and will air on FOX. The video may not identify Sylva as the filming location — no locations were identified in the 2017 broadcast — but nevertheless the broadcast is a boon to Sylva, said Adams. 

“I believe it just showcases our community as a whole, and it showcases our facilities, and it showcases how well our maintenance and our community maintains our area,” he said. “Ultimately, I just think it’s an honor that we had a Medal of Honor winner here in our community.”

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