An Air Force veteran is fuming this week after the grocery store employer for whom he works ordered him to remove his American flag face covering.
Gary Dean, a veteran of the United States Air Force, told WCTI-TV that he wore an American flag face covering at his job at Food Lion in Havelock, North Carolina for months with no issues. That’s why he was stunned on Tuesday afternoon when a manager informed him that his patriotic face covering was forbidden, specifically because it showed the stars and stripes.
“Apparently corporate came down and said ‘somebody was offended by the image of the American flag on the face covering,'” Dean said.
The 69-year-old military veteran was not having any of it, however; he quit his job rather than remove the covering.
“As a veteran, my dad being a World War II hero, my best friend killed in Vietnam, out of respect for them I can’t just say…’I’ll take my flag and put it in my pocket,'” he said. “I had to quit, out of principle.”
Dean went on to say that he was shocked and appalled that the American flag would be offensive to anyone, especially in a military town.
“Why would anybody for any reason be offended by the American flag, the stars and stripes?” he questioned.
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Food Lion reportedly responded to this controversy by saying that while it respects the American flag, it has a corporate policy that “prohibits associates from wearing clothing with writing, insignia, or symbols.” The grocery store chain stated:
At Food Lion, we have great respect for the American flag. Like many other organizations, we also have policies that guide the attire and conduct of associates in the workplace. As part of our effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the well-being of our associates and customers, we’ve required associates to either wear reusable face masks provided by Food Lion or choose to wear a different face covering while working.
However, all face coverings must adhere to standards set by the company and communicated to each of our more than 77,000 associates. The policy prohibits associates from wearing clothing with writing, insignia or symbols. The dress code is meant to ensure a consistent and professional representation of our associates inside of our stores.
Dean served in the Air Force from 1970 to 1976, saying, “Four of those were active, two of those were inactive reserve.” He has friends who were killed in the line of duty, which makes the American flag all the more important to him.
“That’s my friend who was killed in Vietnam, he was a ranger,” he said, pointing to a photo of himself and his friend. “David Toler. Got shot right through the heart, they brought him home. That’s an emotional subject for me. When you lose a friend that is fighting for your freedoms, you get angry.”
“You get very angry when people disrespect the flag,” he added.
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In the end, Dean has no regrets about standing by the flag he put his life on the line fighting for.
“I love this country,” he explained. “I love that my dad went off and fought for my country, nearly got killed for this country but came back and raised a family.”
“I love everything about that flag,” Dean said. “So, yeah, that is my priority.”
This piece was written by PoliZette Staff on September 4, 2020. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.
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