Veterans gathered together Sunday at Hampshire College in Massachusetts to protest the school’s decision to stop flying American flags after students reportedly torched a flag.
Local veterans converged on Hampshire College holding American flags and chanting “U.S.A.,” The Associated Press reports.
Following the electoral victory of GOP President-elect Donald Trump, students at Hampshire College lowered the main flag at the center of the campus to half-staff before later burning it on Nov. 10, prompting administrators to replace the flag to honor Veterans Day.
However, Hampshire College’s Board of Trustees voted to force college officials to lower that flag to half-staff. And now, as of Friday, officials said the flag would be removed indefinitely in order to promote discussion.
“Our goal is to give voice to the range of viewpoints on campus across cultures, and hopefully find common ground,” school spokesman John Courtmanche told CNN. “We’ve heard from members of our community that, for them and for many in our country, the flag is a powerful symbol of fear they’ve felt all their lives because they grew up as people of color, never feeling safe. For others, it’s a symbol of their highest aspirations for the country.”
For veterans belonging to the organization Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 754, such a move is unacceptable.
“There’s other ways that he (Lash) could have dealt with this,” VFW Post Commander Victor A. Nunez Ortiz said, according to The Recorder. “(Removing) our flag is disrespectful not just to the men and women who have served, but to all Americans who believe our flag is a symbol of freedom.”
VFW also had outside moral support from Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, who said the decision to remove the flag is disrespectful towards veterans.
According to a statement from Sarno’s office, the mayor will “attend [the protest] in support and stand in solidarity with our cherished veterans and our American flag in protest of Hampshire College’s continued refusal to fly the flag, which is so disrespectful to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in order for all of us to live the lives we lead.”
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