by LCDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret), ©2017

(Jun. 12, 2017) — While preparing a letter for Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Candice McBride on Saturday, 10 June I came to learn of Governor Haslam’s proclamation ordering the American Flag be flown at half-staff (half-mast in the Navy) in honor and memory of U.S. Army Private First Class Reece Gass on the very day, 10 June.

WWII veteran Private Gass’s remains were returned home from Belgium after 70 years on foreign soil for burial here, on U.S./Tennessee soil, home soil. Private Gass’s military funeral was on Saturday.

On Tuesday 6 June, by chance, I observed the American Flag being flown in front of the McMinn County High School is torn and tattered and disrespected. I offered to pay for a new U.S. Flag out of pocket while insisting the shredded flag be retired and destroyed.

I returned to the high school Saturday morning to find the old and torn American Flag still flying at full mast, now in arrogant, outrageous disrespect to our country’s flag, and to Private Gass.

I was then motivated to inspect other American flags flying before government buildings. None of them were half-masted.

At the Madison Avenue County Courthouse, office to the mayor, surrounded by tens of American flags, not one was lowered to half-mast, or properly retired for the weekend.

I drove to the Sheriff’s office. Same story.

McMinn County Sheriff’s Deputy Sake refused to cause the U.S. flag either to be placed at half-mast or taken down.

The U.S. flag at the Veteran’s Park, very near the mayor’s office, was flying at full-staff.

I proceeded then to the city police and fire station fronting on North Jackson street. There, the American flag was flying at full-staff.

The fire department captain on duty, once told, ordered the American flag to be lowered to half-mast with the speed-of-heat. WELL DONE to him!!

Then I drove to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post on Highway 11. The American flag was flying at full-mast.


HEADS UP: Flag day is Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Dismayed, once again,


Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III
Commander, U.S. Navy, Retired
U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis – Class of 1975

Cc: Local VFW Post


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