In Whitehall, Pennsylvania, the famous black POW/MIA flag flies just below the American Flag at town hall.
It’s been there for years and like POW/MIA flags across the country, there’s a promise implied that it only comes down “when they all come home.”
But in the case of Whitehall, it comes down when it’s time to raise the flag of Syria.
Town Mayor Ed Hozza faced off against an army of angry vets during a meeting when he took the POW/MIA flag down and replaced it with the flag of a foreign nation, Syria, for a ceremonial event for Syrian Americans on April 18, Syrian Independence Day, 69 News reported
The meeting disintegrated quickly, with veterans in biker-clad uniforms yelling at Hozza, Hozza apologizing and at least one resident making the “slit-the-throat” motion at Hozza with their finger.
The Syrian-American community who organized the event at town hall apologized for Hozza’s actions, but Hozza continued to defend replacing the flag.
Several residents said the mayor violated federal law prohibiting the flag of a foreign nation to be flown on the same pole as the American Flag.
Another compared him to “Hanoi Jane,” a name given to actress Jane Fonda, who will never be forgiven by many vets for what they consider her traitorous visit to North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
Township resident Kevin Seyfried declared the only time the POW/MIA flag is allowed to come down “is when all 88,000 POWs and MIAs return home.” He also maintained no other flag is allowed to fly on the same pole as the American flag.
And he said the U.S. State Department considers Syria a terrorist-supporting country — yet its flag was placed underneath the American flag at the April 18 program.
Seyfried asked township commissioners to take formal action so the POW flag “never comes down again.” He also wanted “a public apology from all who were involved on April 18 to POWs, MIAs, their families, the veterans, the people of this township and the men and women serving our country today.”
Seyfried was loudly cheered and applauded. Resident Don Sotak, Jr., claimed Hozza broke three federal laws on April 18. “Arrest him!” yelled one person. “Lock him up!” yelled another.
Another resident yelled: “How do you plead?”
The chaotic meeting only calmed down briefly after the town’s secretary yelled at the crowd: “The snide remarks have to stop!” She said she was recording the minutes and needed to get everybody’s comments down for the record. “Have some courtesy, you’re grown-ups!”
Many who attended the meeting arrived on motorcycles adorned with American flags. Some wore biker vests decorated with military patches, some wore American Legion or VFW caps and some wore military shirts or POW/MIA bandannas. One man carried a POW flag into the room. Another clutched a folded American flag against his chest.