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Flags go up in preparation for Memorial Day Weekend

May 17, 2019
Courtesy of: Randall Collins VFW Coast Guard volunteers Colette Digerness, Andrew Kistner and Karl Haslauer put up the Navy flag in downtown Belfast May 16.

Belfast — Active Duty Coast Guard personnel stationed in Belfast joined members and volunteers from Randall and Collins VFW Post 3108 placing flags around the city May 16, in preparation for Memorial Day Weekend.

Three teams spent four hours completing the project.




Volunteers take a break from hanging flags in downtown Belfast May 16: from left, Mike Mackridge, Steven J. Brown, MST2 Andrew Kistner, MST3 Colette Digerness and MST2 Karl Haslauer. (Courtesy of: Randall Collins VFW)
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Comments (5)
Posted by: Eric Schrader | May 21, 2019 06:43

Well Ms. Blood, 1)2) properly retiring a flag and illumination of the US Flag are related because both issues are covered by the US Flag Code, which the VFW ignores. Flying a severely tattered, shredded flag, unilluminated is tantamount to disgracing Old Glory. The fact that the VFW would continue to fly that poor flag is unacceptable and should have been lowered and properly retired. I travel in the City and I don't see other flags in "public venues" in the same horrible shape. 3) Since the VFW partners in many things, apparently raising money for the flag program is not one of them. Between both organizations, you couldn't raise $ 917? You could do that just with your plastic bottle return program. You say that the majority of members are elderly, so have you reached out to the vets who proudly served in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan? 4) Why is the flag program considered "For the City" and drawing a conclusion about the use of City employees? I thought the flag program was to demonstrate patriotism sponsored by the local veterans' organizations. Whether you realize it or not, the City is in a budget crisis that could lead to layoffs, so every dollar going out the door counts. As a famous politician once said, "a dollar here and a dollar there, and before you know it, you're talking serious money". 5) Yes, I spoke to a VFW representative at McDonalds with "plenty of witnesses" and I decided to go before the Council in the "Open to the Public" forum and received the Councils' endorsement to purchase the service flags and fly them down at the Harbor. An email was sent to the Harbormaster by the VFW "operations manager" and I use that term loosely. In a August 25th, 2018 email to the Harbormaster, the Operations Manager states " flying them (the Service flags) on different day rotations, there should be no issue" and went on to provide the proper "protocol" of flying the Service flags. Then, in a dramatic 180 degree turnaround, the Operations Manager produces a document with a DoD heading that was plagerized from John Hartvigen, a nationally known Vexillologist, justifying NOT supporting the flying of the Service Flags. The only problem with this outcome is the subject document would NOT support flying the Service Flags on City poles, in City right of ways on Field Street. Oops, the Operations Manager just got painted into a corner with the infamous "double standard", which in the interest of consistency, proclaimed that "we have elected to no longer place ANY flags anywhere through out the city.  This means we will no longer put up American Flags on the telephone poles, nor will we place flags for ceremonies in any fashion for Memorial Day or Veterans Day". Boy, talk about thin skin! Oh, the VFW is going to get back at me with this stunt, but according to the Operation's Manager, "things change". Really! what changed? Oh, and about flying Service flags at the City Park, yes, the Navy flag flew for one day in honor of their 248th anniversary. Flag lore says that an empty flagpole is BAD KARMA. Either the flagpole owner is too lazy, too cheap or both to fly a national flag. If the VFW passed all reviews with flying colors, then post the results on the non-existent website or the Facebook page, along with all of the volunteer and funded projects that help elderly, disabled vets. Ironically, I don't see any, but I can proudly say that I have volunteered to help elderly vets with projects in their homes. Well, to conclude, those are the FACTS, so read them and weep. No one is attacking or slandering the VFW, just questioning their commitment to the VFW National standards of conduct.

Posted by: Heidi Blood | May 20, 2019 11:40

Mr. Schrader, I am going help you get caught up to speed, educate, and refresh your memory on some things.

#1.  What does the "proper way to retire a Flag" have to do with illumination?

#2.  The Flag that was tattered for a short while wasn't immediately replaced when you demanded because the Flag Pole itself needed repair due to heavy winds and a build up of ice, and once a contractor was able to come in and repair it, the Flag was replaced.  No one bothered to explain it to you due to your constant criticism of just the VFW.  There are many other Flags in public venues throughout the city that are/were in disarray, but you only attack the VFW.

#3.  I am affiliated with both the Legion and the VFW.  Currently the Legion doesn't have the man power (all there members are significantly older or unable for medical reasons) to help with Flags, but as a veterans group, we do partner on many things.

#4  The Flags in the City are FOR THE CITY.  The VFW provides volunteers and absorbs 75% of cost for materials,  if the city had to pay employees and budget to purchase flags, then the cost would be 5 or 6 times the donation made to help with a project that is done on behalf of the city.  You attempt to make it sound like the VFW is taking advantage of city funds when in fact its just the opposite.

#5.  You state the VFW "Stuck their nose in" when you attempted to put military Flags on the waterfront.  If truth be told, YOU reached out to a VFW member / management while at McDonald's (with plenty of witnesses).  You were told then "It sounds like a great idea"  You took that a a blessing and support for YOUR project.  The VFW AND Legion representatives went to a meeting organized by city manager, (see how the Legion and VFW really do work together when they are able) - and BOTH clubs stated YOUR project was not something THEY (again BOTH CLUBS) could support.  Neither organization opposed or suggested you don't do it, but did say as Veteran Organizations they were not able to support the project.  - and Even after being told "NO", do Not hang service Flags by the city, didn't you put one up on the Flag Pole in City Park anyway?

I am sure, if you brought the Service Flags "you purchased with your own money"  The VFW or American Legion would be happy to tell you where you could put them.

In Closing, not sure if you are aware (another educational moment) Canteens fall under State control, not National VFW.  The Belfast VFW was just audited and passed all inspections from the State of Maine, as well as the quarterly National Inspections from VFW National.

If you want to attack or slander a club, get your facts in order.

Posted by: Eric Schrader | May 19, 2019 13:41

Well Ms. Blood, maybe the VFW needs to read the US Flag code about the proper way to retire a flag because the VFW doesn't seem to know how to illuminate a US Flag that is flown 24/7 or retire a flag when the one that flew over their building was severely tattered for weeks, if not months last year. Would you like some pictures from Christmas Day? Their fund raising programs shouldn't include going to the City every year for a handout. I ponied up my own money and bought Service flags for the City to fly at the Harbor with the Council approval until the VFW stuck their nose into the situation. I think the National VFW Office in Kansas City needs to pay a visit to the Canteen. Maybe the American Legion doesn't want to be affiliated with the VFW for some reason. Any guesses why?

Posted by: Heidi Blood | May 18, 2019 19:48

Perhaps you could donate some instead of criticizing? Perhaps you could have asked to Volunteer? If you had you would have known that numerous flags were replaced this year. And yes, they will be properly retired. (Yep, we know how to do that.) The VFW does numerous fund raisers for many projects. Lastly, ask the American Legion why they aren't partnering with the VFW.

Posted by: Eric Schrader | May 18, 2019 08:05

Only new US Flags should be flown and not the faded ones from last year, which should be properly retired, assuming that the VFW knows how to accomplish this. To the volunteer Coast Guard personnel, thank you for your service. To the members of the VFW, tell your leadership to start fund raising for next year thru donations, grants and return of plastic bottle donations and stop reaching out to the City of Belfast for money. This is your volunteer project, so fund it. And why aren't you partnering with the American Legion?

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