Tuesday, the City of Lubbock said that the mistreatment of an American flag in a city vehicle was the result of an employee not following procedure.
A photo of a city of Lubbock pick-up truck with a crumpled flag in the bed was circling social media by Monday. Many people around Lubbock, including Mayor Glen Robertson took to Facebook with complaints about the mistreatment of the flag.
Robertson posted to Facebook, “I have requested the City Manager, Mr. James Loomis, to investigate this situation and put out a press release tomorrow detailing how this occurred and what steps he will take to ensure this never happens again. This is unacceptable!”
After issuing that press release Robertson mentioned City of Lubbock Public Information Manager Jeff McKito explained how the flag ended up in the bed of the truck. He explained that the person who had handled the flag was one of the city’s airport employees.
“Airport staff was notified of a picture on social media, that showed an American flag in a plastic bag in the back of an aviation pick up truck,” McKito said. After some investigating, we found out the flags were taken down at the airport on Friday afternoon, due to the lateness of the day, they were not able to take the flags to the American Legion or the VFW Post where they usually would take them to have them disposed of.”
McKito said outright: the flag should not have been in the back of the pick-up truck. He’s not sure how long the flags was in the truck for, but by Monday airport staff heard about the social media buzz around and brought the flag to the American Legion for proper retirement.
McKito said that city employees are expected to follow standard procedures for retiring flags, usually they will bring them to be taken care of by another organization.
“The airport staff, I believe, takes it down, they fold it, they put it in a plastic bag and then they store it until they can dispose of it, though I believe they do dispose of it shortly after they take it down,” McKito said of the airport’s flag removal procedures.
He added that on Monday, staff at the airport had a meeting to discuss proper flag removal procedures and avoid any future mishaps.
“Obviously we wanted to correct it, as it turns out the person who had taken the flags down on Friday was a new employee, and so that’s why the staff meeting was held,” McKito said.
Girl Scouts of Lubbock Troop 6424 heard about the flag in the truck through Facebook, and they told EverythingLubbock.com that many people don’t know how much effort it takes to properly retire a flag.Troop 6424 has been collecting and retiring flags in Lubbock for five years. These scouts say that the ritual of taking down and retiring flags helps them to appreciate what the flags represent.
“People have fought for our country for our freedoms, so it’s the best way to show them our respect and show them how much we appreciate them,” said Tassy Simmons, 18.
Bethani Baker, 19 explained that their troop receives hundreds of flags from around Lubbock and brings them to a flag-retiring ceremony.
“We’ll say our poems, we’ll cut the stripes off, we’ll burn the red and the white, and we read a poem with every step,” Baker explained.
She added that anyone– city employee or regular citizen– is welcome to drop off flags for the Girl Scouts to retire at the Girl Scouts office in Lubbock.
The Boy Scouts Council of Lubbock said they will gladly help retire flags as well.