As Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day on July 4, disturbing reports are coming forth from across the nation of American flags being disrespected, attacked, stolen and burned.
In Dearborn Heights, Michigan, a woman reported to police that her flag was burned on June 28. The flag was attached to a flagpole on her front porch. The woman last saw her flag at 8 a.m., then left her home for a few hours. When she returned at 11 a.m., she noticed the flag had been ripped down and burned on her front lawn.
Police officers found the charred flag in pieces on the lawn when they arrived.
In Delaware, the towns of Smyrna and Clayton, more than 5,600 flags had been proudly displayed in front of homes and businesses, but on Thursday night, 42 flags were vandalized along one road, broken off at their stems and tossed onto the lawns.
“We just put them up Thursday and they hadn’t been up 24 hours yet,” Mayor Masten said. “It looks like they took the flags and just snapped them off. I think it was obviously somebody that hadn’t been taught respect and to take pride in your community and take pride in America.”
Smyrna resident Jack Poore, can’t understand why anyone would do such a thing. “As a Vietnam-era veteran I find it hard to understand the mindset of people that don’t respect the country and the flag because during my time of growing up, everybody did,” Mr. Poore said. “It seems like so many kids have been raised up that haven’t been taught.
“To a certain extent my dad in the VFW and the American Legion and the parades, somehow it was instilled in me that you just don’t disrespect the flag and the military and anything to do with it. It makes me wonder about the ones that can and do so freely, how they were not raised with respect.”
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Peachtree City, Georgia: Several residents are angry after someone has gone all over town stealing American flags from several homes. Many residents interviewed are also veterans, and the destruction or theft of their flag isn’t just any other crime – it is an attack on the very freedoms they fought for.
One veteran, Bob Karpiak, said “I served for 20 years and it means a lot to me and my soldiers.”
Incredulous that anyone would do such a thing, especially on the July 4th weekend, many residents believe surely it must just be a prank. As patriotic Americans who have been taught all their lives to respect the flag, it is hard for them to imagine why anyone would do it out of hate for the flag. One resident said surely it was just someone who doesn’t understand what the flag really means.
And Karpiak said fogivingly, “I’m sure it was kids being kids. Hopefully their parents will correct them.”
One man was more condemning. “That kind’ve pisses me off,” Philip Griffiths, who also had his flag stolen, said. “Either they’re stupid or just downright disrespectful.”
“That is our emblem,” neighbor Georgia Pappas said. “I was eight years with the Army. I’m just really appalled. I don’t understand why anyone would do that. Even if it’s just a joke, someone is doing it trying to be funny, I don’t find it funny.”
“I served in the United States Army for more than 16 years,” Frank Ward said. “Peachtree City is one of the best places to celebrate the Fourth of July. It makes me feel terrible. It’s just disgraceful to me to think that anybody would steal or take somebody’s flag. I think all of us patriotic folks that live here have a problem with this.”
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