Frustrated, angry, emotional citizens speak out about POW/MIA flag

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IDAHO FALLS — The debate over Idaho Falls’ proposed flag policy continued Thursday night during the public hearing portion of the City Council meeting.

Members of the public, veterans and members of veteran organizations expressed their opinions on the matter.

Background

In July, City Attorney Randall Fife recommended removing the POW/MIA flag that has flown on a pole outside City Hall for years. City employees told EastIdahoNews.com they had been instructed to remove the flag July 6.

Hours after the news broke about the pending removal, Mayor Rebecca Casper announced it would continue to fly until the city came up with an official flag policy.

Fife’s proposed flag policy contains three separate parts.

Part one deals with the three main government flags: the national flag, state flag and city flag. It also details how flags flown on city property are to be treated in regards to being raised, lowered, replaced and lowered to half mast.

RELATED: City of Idaho Falls introduces proposed flag policy following POW/MIA controversy

Part two of the policy officially adopts a city flag. The city has a seal that is flown as the city flag; however, Fife mentioned he could not find anywhere where it had officially been adopted as the city flag.

Part three of the flag policy would remove the POW/MIA flag from City Hall except on certain holidays such as Memorial Day, Independence Day and National POW/MIA Recognition Day. The flag would continue to fly year-round at the War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial.

What happened Thursday

Two dozen people took to the podium for over an hour during the Thursday evening meeting. Each person speaking in reference to the flag expressed displeasure with the proposed policy and the possibility of removing the POW/MIA flag from City Hall.

Here are some of the comments:

“I served in Vietnam … and when we came home we got spit on. You take that flag down, you’re doing the same thing to us.”

“I’m a third-generation Idaho resident. There’s 75 cousins on one side of my family that have worn the uniform … you take that flag down, that’s 75 plus of my family that you’re disrespecting.”

“If this council and this mayor cannot take this seriously and unanimously vote and modify the plan that’s out there right now to fly…365 days a year 24/7, then we need to take it to the polls and remove you from office.”

“It’s a disgrace that anyone on this council would consider taking down that flag.”

“Mr. Fife said he didn’t know the history of why the flag was flying at City Hall, that ‘some lady named Nancy had given the flag to the mayor.’ Let me introduce myself again Mr. Fife. I am Nancy. I didn’t give this as a personal gesture. The flag was presented to the city by me as the president of the Vietnam veteran’ organization Freedom Birds.”

What’s next

Casper suggested having another special meeting about the issue next week.

“I’m thinking it might be worthwhile to have dialogue a week from now,” Casper said. “I’m happy to be here to answer questions and to explain some of the things that I think have perhaps have been misunderstood.”

The time and date of the meeting had not been set as of Friday afternoon.

How to make your voice heard

To share your opinions with Mayor Casper and City Council members about the flag issue, you may use the following contact information:

Mayor Rebecca Casper:

Jim Freeman:

Jim Francis:

Shelly Smede:

Thomas Hally:

John Radford:

Michelle Ziel-Dingman:

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