Since 2004 the Palmer Lake VFW Post in Brooklyn Park, Minn. has flown Old Glory to show their support for American troops. The flags were posted on five area bridges. But now, the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation has ordered the veterans to remove the flags.
“This has nothing to do with the American flag,” MnDOT spokesman Kent Barnard told television station KAAL. “It has to do with any objects placed on a bridge. We have to look out for the motorists’ safety. That is our number one concern.”
The flags are attached to the bridges with brackets and transportation officials were concerned the brackets might fall and hit a motorist.
“Something somebody else puts on the bridge could conceivable break loose and fall, and injure somebody,” Barnard told the television station.
Lee Ulferts, a former commander of the VFW Post said it’s unfortunate – and suggested the American flag should have special consideration.
“This is the United States of America, and this is how we show our pride in our country, by flying our flag,” he told KAAL. “We kept that flag in a closet for way too many years, we need to see it, and we need to see it every day.”
Minnesota is not the only state to crack down on flags or roadside memorials.
In January, transportation workers in Maryland sparked controversy when they removed an American flag from a traffic circle. The flag and flag pole were torn down and thrown into the back of a dump truck.
The state highway workers said it was against the law to erect a flag on the circle.
In 2002 the California Dept. of Transportation ordered all U.S. flags removed from freeway overpasses. The decision was made after a federal judge ruled that if U.S. flags were allowed to fly, then other banners and signs must be allowed.
The case involved anti-war protesters who wanted to put up signs alongside American flags.
Caltrans spokesman Dennis Trujillo told the SFGate.com at the time that the state was disappointed.
“We thought the state statutes allowed for the flag to be displayed, but the judge has ruled otherwise.”
In New Jersey a memorial to victims and heroes of the Sept.11, 2001 terrorist attacks was removed because it violated rules governing public rights-of-way.
And in 2006 state transportation workers in Massachusetts enforced a ban on banners and flags — citing safety concerns.