View Full Version : Vets Protest College's Flag Exhibit

09-14-03, 11:18 AM
Vets Protest College's Flag Exhibit

By Theresa Vargas

September 14, 2003

It's a single sentence, scribbled in a plain hardback book on a shelf next to a folded, yet soiled American flag, its white stripes gray from dusty footprints.

"The exhibit is legal but wrong and immoral," World War II veteran Pat Cassette wrote amid 14 pages of conflicting sentiments.

It was the adopted motto yesterday of the more than 50 war veterans who stood in the rain protesting an art exhibit that invites viewers to walk on the flag. "We have freedom of speech but only until it hurts someone," Vietnam veteran Larry Attenburg of Rockville Centre said. "This here is hurting."

Though Nassau Community College's Firehouse Art Galley didn't open its doors until noon, the veterans were lined up outside by 11 a.m.

"We're going to walk around to where the flag is, shoulder to shoulder," Marine veteran Patrick Yngstrom told the gathered men just minutes before the museum opened, adding that three people from the flag brigade would then pick it up and fold it properly. "If it happens again," he boomed, "we're going to refurl it."

"No violence," added Cassette. "None."

And none ensued as the men entered the room, barreling past 26 other flag exhibits partially shadowed, according to curator Lynn Casey, by the controversy stirred by artist Dread Scott's "What is the Proper Way to Display the U.S. Flag?" The flag, which is normally on the floor, sat folded yesterday in proper form on a shelf.

Joe Portela, the college's director of public safety and also a Korean war veteran, said he refolded it the night before. "I tried to prevent controversy," he said. "I'm a peaceful guy at heart."

One by one, in turn, each of the veterans signed the book, filling it with patriotic sentiments and scribbled outrage. "How dare you," one veteran wrote. "Where were you!"

"When you desecrate the symbol of our freedom, you in effect, deny what it stands for ... " wrote another.

They were sentiments echoed in the other pages, one person telling of an uncle lost on Sept. 11 and another saying that he didn't notice the flag until after he was standing on it: "I jumped off it as if it were hot coals."

Before the veterans added their words yesterday, the comments had been basically split, ranging from threats against Scott to praise of his vision. Many even saw it as an appropriate tribute.

" ... since I think this newfound form of patriotism is absurd since 911, leave it on the ground. See if anyone notices it," read comments signed in small bubbly writing.

"The flag is cloth," another wrote, "nothing more than a symbol that people take far too seriously ... Ah Hell, put it on a T-shirt. Then they don't mind. I'm moving to Canada."

Others, however, stood paralyzed in the conflict.

"I was disappointed the flag was folded and too intimidated to put it on the floor," one man wrote. "So who is free?"
Copyright 2003, Newsday, Inc.


Ex-Marine Patrick Yngstrom signs in at a controversial flag exhibit yesterday.
(Newsday/Dick Yarwood)




09-14-03, 02:51 PM
Good read! Why is it people have to disgrace and dishonor the American flag to show freedom, or prove freedom??