It seems that displaying the flag of our ol' United States has gotten another patriotic soul in trouble:
Chester, Pa., firefighter James Krapf wants to know what's wrong with Old Glory. The 11-year veteran was suspended without pay Thursday after he refused to peel a sticker of the American flag from his locker.
"It's pride... it's a matter of pride," Krapf said.
A new department rule mandates that all stickers and statements - union, cartoon and political - be stripped from lockers after several offensive and racist images showed up in the firehouse. But Krapf figured the red, white and blue was safe.
It seems he was wrong. [source]
Got it. Someone complained about someone else's insensitive Snoopy sticker or something, so instead of devising a policy with some common sense, we'll do the easy thing and punish everybody. Something I've seen many, many times in my 21 years in the Army. It's just too easy to do. But then it sets up someone like this Chester, PA, firefighter up for failure, despite his good, normal, patriotic intentions.
I mean, how hard would it be to write the policy, IN THE FIRST PLACE, to state that US, State, and approved firefighter flags, emblems, and logos can be displayed on the wall lockers. Also, put something in there about any other stickers have to be approved by the station chief. Poof! No need for bureaucratic mass punishment and meddling with the simple act of putting a sticker on a wall locker.
Now that I think about it, how come this isn't already a policy? There should be some sort of blanket policy about displaying stuff in and around the fire station already, right? If not, then, well, duh. Fire station leaders, you need to pay attention to this stuff. These little stickers aren't just a distraction or a pain in the butt if they provide motivation and purpose to your firefighters. Seems like James Krapf gets something out of seeing that flag. Maybe it reminds him that he's an American and the long, mostly boring hours punctuated by intense, life-threatening moments are worth it because he's dedicated to protecting the people that that flag sticker represent.
Maybe it does all that. I'm just guessing.
Little things like that have provided me with motivation and purpose over the years. When I was training up for the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course, I kept a SF Tab safety-pinned inside my patrol cap. Certainly against Army Regs for the wear of the uniform... but the few leaders that saw it understood why it was there and knew that because it didn't show when the PC was worn properly that it wasn't a big deal.
Except to me.
Kinda like James Krapf's flag sticker, I reckon.