Air Force veteran and Food Lion, a North Carolina-based grocery chain, employee Gary Dean wore his American flag face covering for months until his manager banned 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 recalled to WCTI-TV. Shortly after, Dean quit.
“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 told the station, noting such a concession would be against his values. “I had to quit, out of principle.”
In utter dismay, Dean expressed he couldn’t believe how, especially in a military town, the Red, White, and Blue could offend somene. “Why would anybody for any reason be offended by the American flag, the stars and stripes?” he asked the station.
“I love everything about that flag,” Dean told WCTI. “So, yeah, that is my priority.”
Food Lion responded by assuring they respected the flag, they also “prohibit associates from wearing clothing with writing, insignia, or symbols,” and their “dress code is meant to ensure a consistent and professional representation of our associates inside of our stores.” However, as the backlash begun to pile up, the chain finally caved days later, stating, “While we continue to maintain our uniform standards requiring associates to wear masks without writing, insignia or symbols, we will allow associates to wear masks with the American flag that meet this standard.”
For the flag to offend somebody, enough to complain to management of a grocery store, highlights the concerning degradation of reverence for the stars and stripes. America, with its unique emphasis on limited government and a social contract built on consent of the governed, offers little to unify under by design. With a diverse melting pot of culture to claim as its own, the social fabric resembles more of a patchwork quilt than a smooth and consistent set. No instituted standards on happiness may present maximum liberty to the people, but it also results in a disjointed cacophony as a nation and serious difficulty for the government to propose collective action.
Therefore, if we wish to coexist, we must share something. A shared principle, some collective personality that we all can defend to the death. And, as the finest ideals for the foundation of a nation and, as Thomas Jefferson put it, the “expression of the American mind”, the Declaration of Independence should suffice, the symbol of such being the American flag. Truly, the American flag should be the least controversial symbol in America yet the opposite seems to be occurring.
Flags burned at riots ravaging the nation, athletes kneeling for the national anthem, and now, nearly banned on masks by the corporate sector. Thankfully, Food Lion reversed their position but the flag’s supposed offensiveness to a shopper only adds to a trend of detraction from Old Glory. Entering a divisive election nearly guaranteed to split America apart once again no matter the outcome, we must not forget what unites us all.