Flag touching ground at McDonald’s prompts outrage

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NEW BRITAIN--  A massive outrage on social media has emerged around an American flag allowed to touch the ground at a local McDonald's.

A picture taken and posted on a Facebook page, "Stolen Valor" shows two workers of the McDonald's on West Main Street in New Britain next to a flag on the ground.

The  owner and operator of the franchise, Joe Rodriguez tells Fox Connecticut a store training manager was in the process of replacing an old flag in front of the store earlier this month.

Rodriguez said the manager who attempted to change the flag did not have the knowledge of the proper way to handle a flag.

"He didn`t know the procedures, he dragged it on the ground and someone was here and took a picture and put it on Facebook," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez says his franchise is receiving constant phone calls from people who've seen the picture and are upset.  He says one of the store manager in the picture has received death threats.

Rodriguez told Fox Connecticut  there was no "ill-intent" and says it was unintentional mistake.

"We apologize, we`re taking every measure, ever precaution it will never happen," said Joe Rodriguez,  the West Main St. New Britain McDonald's franchise owner and operator.

The days and weeks after the picture circulated on Facebook--- many felt the actions of the employees disrespected the American flag.

The Stolen Valor Facebook group has 327,000 likes and many veterans reacted to the picture.

We spoke to a few veterans at the Hannon-Hatch VFW Post 9929 in West Hartford.

Many of these vets are often handling and arranging the American flag .

"I can see where an accident can happen where it could drop on the ground," said Leo Fitzpatrick, chaplin for the Hannon-Hatch VFW 929 post.

"I'll give him a break, a big break. People should not bother him for that, not at all," said Steve Polzun, a veteran of the U.S. Army who served in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1970.

Polzun said more emphasis on "flag etiquette" should be taught to children in school.

"It hurts, it does bother me. You have to realize the age of the person because what knowledge do they really have? Polzun said.

Many of the Facebook posts called for the employee to be fired.

Rodriguez says he decided not to,  instead giving him a second chance.

"We rectified the situation we met with him, and we taught him, re-trained everyone how to handle the flag accordingly," Rodriguez said.

The Franchise owner says the  situation has bothered him even more because his father served for the country, as a U.S  Marine during the Vietnam War.

"We respect our veterans, we support them, we do a lot of community involvement with them," Rodriguez said.

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22 comments

  • Steve

    Don’t know how to handle the flag? Call the VFW or local National Guard. They’d probably send someone over to do it right for you.

  • Troy barnhill

    This has got to be one of the most poorly written articles I have ever read :/ . I can’t believe a news agency would employ somebody that has such limited knowlege on how to use the English language :/ ..

  • SSG P

    You can clearly tell from the picture that it did not drop, it was allowed to drop to the ground and then left there. Unlike the one vet that has sanctimoniously decided to “give him a big break”, I for one do not think this has been dealt with properly. The manager and/or owner should not be let off so easily for utterly failing to train their staff in the BASIC care & respect that should be afforded to our flag.

    • Drew Pierpont

      Lose the fascist attitude. Not everyone knows how to do it, and there are no laws against what happened. The franchise owner and general management said they will never let it happen again, end of story.

      • Robert Doyle

        Not end of story. It’s not okay. And it will happen again. Just with someone different.

        No firing the guy won’t make it better.

        It can’t be made right.

        Because it shouldn’t have ever happened.

        Didn’t know my ass. You stare at a flag for 12 years of your life never touching the ground. In grade school. Every classroom every school in America.

        So don’t give me he didn’t know. And give him a break.

  • Buzz

    I question the validity of the death threats. Reports from Stolen Valor are that those who have called did so in an attempt to educate, and that the owner made threats to sue for defamation. The topic of the supposed death threats are being discussed on that page and not a single person finds them appropriate. Sounds like the owner is trying to detract…for whatever reason.

  • smnbaystater96smnbaystater96

    Its just a flag so what if it touches the ground. The US Flag represents imperialism decades of toppling democratically elected regimes in Latin America and the Mid East. How many millions (of Iraqis,Afghan, Iranians, Eastern Bloc civilians, Japanese, and American Indians) have died or been persecuted just because the flag symbolizes freedom and equality for the heterosexual white Christian males.

      • Vintage1974

        LOL, I’m a lesbian, gay colored person AND I served in the military. I wholeheartedly disagree with this person who says the flag represents imperialism or only heterosexual white Christian males. As a matter of fact my family has served this country in the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force dating back to World War II. Can’t lump us all in together.

    • Michael Moore

      Negative, Matthew Shorthouse. The owner is NOT in the picture, his manager and an employee are. I filed a complaint with McD’s HQ the day after this picture was posted to FB and within 2 hours received a personal call from Mr. Rodriguez. He is a decent guy and is distraught that this incident happened. He has undertaken additional training for the employees of his 5 stores. He told me he is regretful that it was his store that became involved but he is thankful the spirit of the American Patriot still exists where the flag is concerned. The store manager made a public apology for letting the flag lay on the ground and admitted he had never been taught WHY we don’t let the flag touch the ground. He has received additional training and he now “gets it”. The beauty of us Americans is our ability to fight like h*ll over a cause and, once we’ve won, help our former enemy rebuild. America won this one…now it’s time to let Mr. Rodriguez and his people continue their pursuit of the American dream in peace.

  • John Townsend

    The owner states they have rectified the issue however they are still displaying the American flag incorrectly. They have McDonalds flag attached to the same halyard as the American Flag and under it. This goes against the Flag Code in that Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard. Advertising signs include corporate flags. This should be brought to their attention before the same threatening issues occur again.

  • Mije

    dropping is one thing dragging is another, I don’t care if you’ve never even heard of flag etiquette,you’d think common sense would prevail and he’d know a flag represents a country

  • Laurie

    I personally know flag etiquette. I know how to properly fold the flag etc. But so many people are going way overboard on this… I mean really, death threats? Let me ask a question. How many of you know proper flag etiquette? Now how many have passed that knowledge on to your children, nieces and nephews, a friends kids? I bet now many because how often does flag etiquette come up in normal conversation? While I was upset when I saw the picture, it made me stop and think. .. this could be my nephew or possibly my child. Have I ever taught them how to handle the flag. The answer was no. That is now remedied and they know now… but what if the instructions came after an incident like this? The schools do NOT teach proper flag etiquette and since they don’t, well, it falls to the family. And trust me, not every civilian knows all the rules about proper handling of the flag. Just an observation.

  • Jo-anne Buck Hildreth

    One on the McDonald’s here (Greensboro, NC) has been flying one for well over a year that is all ripped up. Disgusting

  • JP

    Obviously it was unintentional. Yes, it’s wrong, but it is more wrong to threaten their lives. If we are so concerned about patriotism then we should not be threatening the lives of our very own american people simply because they made a mistake. If a person is patriotic, he or she will try to explain to these two workers how to handle the flag and explain that it cannot be touching the floor. However, instead, people use the flag touching the ground as an excuse to act with a sense of anger that they would not have been allowed to do if the flag never touched the floor. This is bullshit and whoever took the picture is a complete “knucklehead” himself for starting all this stupid nonsense. What he should have done is gone to the McDonalds and spoken to the employs on how to properly care for an American Flag, not start drama like a typical no brained prick. But everyone just wants an excuse to act tough and cool and perhaps like a hero. But a real hero and cool guy would address the situation in a more proper manner and not be a coward who starts drama over simple mistake.

  • Turtle

    Instead of snapping a photo for Facebook why didn’t they help the poorly trained flag removers? Those flags are quite large, usually need 2 or more people anyway…. No disrespect was intentional I’m sure, so everyone get over it.