As I read the BDN article, “Judge rejects Freeport flag ladies’ harassment claim,” earlier this month, I said to my wife, “My God, history does in fact repeat itself.”
It seems like only yesterday (July 2006) when a group of left-wing pacifists led by peace activist and then-Democratic senatorial hopeful Jean Hay Bright assembled on the steps of Blue Hill Town Hall and held a “fasting vigil” against our troops being in Iraq.
Having served in Iraq, I know firsthand what impact these pacifist protests have on our troops and attempted to show the other side — that it was not about how or why we got into the war but instead about supporting our troops who were ordered there by our government. Our troops do not enjoy observing these demonstrations, as they serve only one purpose — to them, it downgrades their morale.
I have often wondered just how many of those peace activists actually served in combat and, if they did serve, what form of discharge they received upon separation. In my opinion, peace comes from sacrifice, and our troops consistently sacrifice to give us the peace and freedom we enjoy today.
Many of these same activist groups also opposed my action to initiate the placement of American flags on every pole leading into Blue Hill.
Now, 10 years later, I once again read about a group of women who only want to be left alone to proudly display the American flag without incident. This act of patriotism regretfully led to confrontation with others who somehow equate patriotism with pacifism.
Maybe I am missing something, but just how can a stated pacifist who is proudly against violence and/or any wars be the same as a patriot who will defend his or her country at all costs when ordered to do so?
It is also difficult to understand just how an individual displaying a sign supporting refugees and who also equated a memorial service for the 9/11 victims with a “program of military force” and criticized it for “its exploitation of 9/11 victims” has anything to do with a group of women displaying the American flag.
It is apparent a confrontation existed among these individuals, leading to one group requesting the legal path of a permanent protection order from harassment. Although a West Bath District judge refused to grant this requested order, it is my fervent belief this ruling should never discourage the right of any citizen to continue to fly the American flag whenever and wherever they choose to do so.
Let no judge deny the right of our citizens to honor the symbol of our country: the American flag. Too many of our veterans have given their life for what it stands for.
I am sure I am not alone in appreciating the Freeport Flag Ladies’ weekly, 14-year dedicated commitment of displaying our flag during all types of weather while sacrificing their personal time with family and friends. Let’s hope cooler heads will prevail and end this ridiculous confrontation.
Thomas W. Kelly III is a retired 30-year Navy Captain and a graduate of Brewer High School and Maine Maritime Academy. He resides in Holden.