Some time ago, I was taking my break at work and gazing out the window, enjoying the sunshine and being quite happy I was safely on the inside of the pane considering the seventy five KPH wind gusts and sub-freezing temps outside. I happened to glance up at the American flag being flown in front of our industrial facility and saw that it was actually rather shabby and worn. It was noticeably faded and had a couple of significant tears, one stretching more than 20% of it’s length. OK, fair enough, flags don’t last forever and the plains state winds can shred them remarkably quickly. When a flag is significantly worn, it should be honorably retired (preferably by burning) and replaced. I figure nobody has noticed it yet, who do I inform?
By happenstance, as I was walking back to my work area, I saw both the Facilities Manager and the Senior HR Manager having a quick meeting in the hall. I figure between the two of them, they can either replace the flag or tell me who I need to notify to get the process going. I take them over to the window, point out the faded flag and they both agree, it needs to be replaced. FM agrees to take care of it.
That was three weeks ago and the flag is still there.
I’m not a particularly patriotic person. It means very little to me when an individual or organization choose to fly the American flag. Flags have become so commonplace that for the most part, they have lost all meaning to me. Flying an American flag says nothing of note about who you are and what you sincerely believe. Here’s the catch though, it does say something about who you want me to believe you are. Fly a flag or don’t, I don’t greatly care. Fly one and then half-ass it, what message am I supposed to get from that? Continuing to fly a worn flag is far more damning to me that any bare flagpole.
I know people who want to enforce criminal penalties for violation of the US flag code. I consider this to be ridiculous, insulting and probably counter productive. That said, if you’re going to fly an American flag, do it properly. And if you choose to continue to fly a needlessly tattered flag, fair enough. You can claim that as a First Amendment right. Just don’t be surprised when I exercise that right myself.
How annoyed should you be? As annoyed as you want to be. But should you press the issue further? I don’t think so. Not worth it for you. You don’t want to be “that guy” or “that gal” even if you’re right. Not over an issue as trivial and as unrelated to your job as this.
Sounds like a great way to get fired when they check the security footage to see who committed the “heinous crime” of dishonoring the flag. The “dishonoring” being the act of hauling it down and absconding with it. Some might even call it theft, but then surely theft is too fine a word for “unpatriotic” behavior.
Call your local American Legion (or other veteran organization) and talk to them. I don’t know if it will actually do any good, but the post I used to belong took stuff like that seriously; and would send folks out to the business in question and talk to them about it.
Security footage? Well if we’re just going to add whatever we want to the story, and make up our own versions of this scenario, I guess any action is futile when faced with the wild and creative imagination of ASL v2.0. I can play that game too, though. After I get fired, I’ll just get a newer and better job at the facility across the street. It pays double, and the managers listen to their employees. Oh, and my lawyer got me off on the “theft” conviction. And she did it pro bono…
TheCuse has the best idea: call the VFW (or American Legion). Don’t say you work at this company. Just say you’re a concerned citizen. They’ll take it from there.
If that’s a no-go for you, follow up with an email to the guys you reported it to. Just say something like, “I know how busy you are, but every time I see that tattered flag, I wonder what it’s doing to our corporate image.”
All of the flags flown at our corporate location, including a Pride flag, are in really good condition. Even the ones down the street get replaced regularly, as the connection between faded flag and poor quality is too strong to ignore.
That said, some months after 9/11 I saw many ratty flags flying form cars, etc. My SIL said that it was more important to show patriotism than to be concerned with the condition of the flag.
I disagree, and I don’t fly any flag. Do it right or don’t do it at all.
I like the suggestion of contacting the American Legion or VFW. Probably both can provide support and dispose of the old flag.
To the OP, they’re probably a little busy. I suggest finding a flag for replacement and then approaching the Manager of HR / Facilities and asking them if you bought it and replaced the worn flag, if you could expense the cost (or better yet if they’d buy it, so no $ out of pocket to you). And then also be the one to do the replacement.
I had this same experience at a former company. I talked to HR, they ordered the new flag, and I replaced it and disposed of the old flag by quietly burning it in a small 5-gallon metal bucket. HR was happy that someone (me) took the initiative to get it done.
it’s not your property to take down … it can be considered trespassing or vandalism … and you might be charged as “mischief with criminal intent”. oh, yeah … your actions would also be influencing deviant behavior in other people as well. i mean … do you really want your next-door neighbor to repaint your house in purple … because that’s his favorite color … and your red house gives him nightmares every night? think proactive … not reactive.
bullitt has the right idea. I’d take it one step further if I felt as you do. Forget about reimbursement. Ask management for a green light, then use your own money and purchase a flag of similar size. Find out who lowers and raises the flag, tell them to use your replacement. Let the company retain the old one.
I would push for flag replacement fairly vigorously, including e-mails and memos to the appropriate parties. As long as you frame it as a case of “Is this the image our company wants to project?” and make it clear that you take pride in the company, I think your message will be well-received. What if half the lights were burned out at the company sign (or whatever the equivalent would be at your company)?
If management makes it clear that they want the flag to look good, it will be replaced, in spite of the facilities people complaining that it’s not in this year’s budget.
The idea that a company might have a security camera at the very least watching its front entrance (assuming that’s where the flag is—out front, could be wrong) is hardly far-fetched. As noted, this flag is not your property and it’s removal by you would technically constitute some sort of theft, tattered or not. While it certainly would seem an overreaction to me for the employer to go that route, when you turn into a crusader and make yourself a nuisance for “insert pet issue,” you never know how much blowback you’ll get, or from which direction.
See, this is exactly the kind of thing I think you should be avoiding if you value your job, anonymous or not.
This is not a case of sexual harassment or a toxic work place being overlooked by management. It’s a piece of fabric.