By Todd Starnes
The firefighters in Poughkeepsie, New York are patriots – especially the guys in the Arlington Fire District.
They love America and they love to fly an American flag on their fire trucks. There’s nothing quite like watching the Star-Spangled Banner wave from the back of a truck – tearing down Burnett Boulevard.
But on Monday, the Arlington Fire District’s Board of Fire Commissioners ordered the men to remove Old Glory.
The commissioners, in a 3-2 decision, said the flags would distract motorists and posed a liability, the Poughkeepsie Journal reported.
Joseph Tarquinio, the head of the local firefighters union, was disgusted by the order.
“At the time when the country needs unity, to do something like this…it’s next to flag-burning in my mind,” he told the newspaper.
Hundreds of people expressed outrage online.
“Sad friggin’ day in Arlington,” one man wrote on Facebook. “Had I been in charge, I would have told them to kiss my retired Navy Chief Petty Officer ass.”
“Remove the commissioners instead of the flags,” another irate reader wrote.
But the Board of Fire Commissioners was not swayed. And on Tuesday – the firefighters held a ceremony to remove the flags.
“I think for a lot of people, (the issue) crosses political lines, moral lines, religious lines,” Tarquinio told the newspaper. “It’s the flag of this country.”
What happened in Duchess County, New York is not uncommon – there have been other fire departments around the nation. Firefighters in Riverside, California were told to remove the U.S. flag in July.
And a Rhode Island fire department commissioner made national headlines when he said it is un-American to post flags on fire trucks. He also referred to firefighters as terrorists. The commissioner later apologized.
The union representing New York City firefighters called the decision to remove Old Glory “outrageous and disgraceful.”
“It’s outrageous and disgraceful that anyone would claim that an American flag could be seen as a distraction,” said James Lemonda, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association.
“We support our brothers and sisters just up the Hudson River to proudly display their affection and commitment to our country, especially right before they are asked to run into burning buildings to save lives,” he added.
Sadly – there are far too many people in authority who agree with the Board of Fire Commissioners in Poughkeepsie, New York. They believe that Old Glory, a sign of our freedom, is a distraction.