At May’s end, Rhode Island news sources began covering a minor disagreement in the town of Coventry over the display of American flags on fire trucks. The Associated Press reported earlier in the year that firefighters had been asked to remove their flags from their fire trucks.
A passage from that article reads:
The firefighters say [the controversy] started last year when Central Coventry Fire District Chairman Fred Gralinski likened their display of the flags on the back of the trucks to something the Islamic State group would do.
Gralinski apologized, saying he chose his words poorly.
David Gorman, president of the firefighters’ union local, says the district board recently adopted a policy that the fire chief must approve any stickers or decals applied on the trucks.
He says the policy made no mention of flags, but he’s still being asked in private to remove them.
Gralinski says there’s no order to remove the flags.
Citizens of the town donated the Fire Department a new flag pole and flag in support of the firemen and their movement, while a US Navy sailor dropped off 4 new flags for the department to fly.
In June 2016, the issue truly came to light as a YouTube video was posted showcasing what is reportedly Fire District Chairman Fred Gralinski’s voice, comparing displays of patriotism to those of Islamic State (ISIS) members:
They look like a bunch of yahoos … Like in the paper, like ISIS in Syria going to take over a city. I don’t think they need that big flag on the back of the truck. That’s not America to me. Those are a bunch of terrorists. So I’m going to ask you to take the flag off that truck.
Patch pulled the following information from a news release issued by fire district manager Gayle Coorigan:
In a news release, [Corrigan] also said that the district “has equipped all of its fire apparatus with new American flags that replaced old, tattered and dirty flags which were on the trucks.”
“I’d like to thank Tony DeQuattro of Operation Stand Down-Rhode Island for providing us with the correct protocols to ensure American flags on our fire trucks are afforded the respect they deserve,” Corrigan said. “I would also like to thank the taxpayers who brought the issue of dirty and dingy flags on our trucks to our attention and questioned us about proper flag etiquette. We now believe our trucks are in compliance.”
As of 6 June 2016, the controversy has reached its end and firefighters in Rhode Island will once again be allowed to fly their American Flags on their fire trucks.
How do you feel about the Fire District Chairman likening our fire trucks to that of ISIS propaganda? Let us know in the comments below.