The Minnesota Department of Transportation has, perhaps, avoided a showdown over the removal of American flags on highway overpasses by using something of a technicality in the state law.
It started the controversy when it ordered the VFW in Brooklyn Park to take down American flags it had placed over five highway overpasses, something it's done for eight years. MnDOT cited state law against anyone else placing advertisements or objects within the limits of a highway rules.
The predictable response was swift, with defenders of the flag calling for people to place hundreds of the flags on the overpasses.
In a press release today, MnDOT offered a solution. It would do the flag placing, and avoid -- maybe -- a PR problem that might've spiraled out of its control:
The Minnesota Department of Transportation will install U.S. flags on a number of bridges along Highway 610 and Highway 10 in the northwest Twin Cities metro area on Friday, July 20, according to Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel.
"Recently, MnDOT required a private organization to remove U.S. flags that had been illegally placed on several bridges in the Twin Cities area. By law, MnDOT must remove any type of device, advertisement or obstruction placed by private organizations that could interfere with traffic. However, this removal of the flags triggered numerous complaints from the public, most suggesting that the U.S. flag deserves special consideration from state law.
"In response to public concern, we took a closer look at this issue and concluded that, if MnDOT, not a private organization, purchases and installs the flags, the agency will continue to meet its safety and legal concerns, while being sensitive to public sentiment. In addition, MnDOT's installation will ensure that the flags are secure and that anything that comes loose would land away from the roadway. MnDOT is not willing to accept risk regarding roadway distraction or obstruction."
The U.S. flag will be installed on 11 bridges along Highway 610, Highway 10 and Highway 252, according to MnDOT. The agency is seeking input from other state DOT's and developing a policy to determine when and where other flags may be installed.
Related: Count the number of violations of the U.S. Flag Code in this video:
I hate to say it, but Whoa! A State agency making a smart move. Amazing.
Of course, as you allude to with the video, does MNDot plan to light the flags at night? Unlikely that flag rules will be followed and that's a shame. I know my agency takes down the flags every night and stores them as required.
Those with a strong concern for precise adherence to the flag code are most likely reincarnated Pharisees, who became confused about where they should live this life because of the impressive powers of AIPAC.
I live just south of 610 in Brooklyn Park and the flags were always nice to drive by. I can understand MnDOTs concern though, when a high wind storm moves through those flags really get moving and the consequence of the flag coming off the pole could be awful.
Where they are at there is not a direct light on them but they are lit well enough to know without a doubt that is the American flag.
Not having the flag lit 24/7 is one violation of flag code, not to mention you shouldn't wear the flag as clothing (this includes lapel pins), the flag needs to be folded correctly when taken down, the flag shouldn't fly while damaged and when damaged disposed of correctly. But wait, I just mentioned them, hmmm
Under the flag code, or at least congress' interpretation of it, the illumination feature is when displayed on a flag pole or a building.
Also, technically, when displayed over a street, it is to be displayed vertically, not horizontally.
Com'on people - it's amazing what you all will find to bicker over ! Really ??
Your focus is on the care and displaying manners of flying a US Flag?
First of all, it was the VFW members (who clearly are well educated on the matters of carrying, displaying and caring for a US Flag, and if you are not understanding why it's clear, ask a Veteran).
These VFW members are those who have voluntarily been displaying these flags at these locations for EIGHT YEARS PRIOR - when - suddenly each flag was removed by MN-DOT as a result of a filed complaint about the flags flying in the first place... it was never about the reportedly concerns of safety, but it conveniently became that when deciding how to respond to the public outcry.
Speaking of which ... Hasn't anyone notice how the article fails to cite why an issue developed to begin with! I expected better from a MPR article.
and to view this event as any win/win is totally ludicrous - the MN-DOT Dept will have to spend tax dollars to do what they are reportedly going to do!
Neither does anyone raise an eyebrow or a concern that no where in their 'public statement' does MN-DOT state they will replace the flags in their same positions as has been throughout the past eight years as well... no one caught that either?
Classic Big Brother taking care of you - and not one objection?
I'd rather see the sniveling whiner who started this uproar "Tar'd & Feather'd" for me to consider any part of it as a win/win :>)
now! there! this ought raise the bickering bar a tad!
// First of all, it was the VFW members (who clearly are well educated on the matters of carrying, displaying and caring for a US Flag, and if you are not understanding why it's clear, ask a Veteran).
You are rebutting an argument that was never made.
//These VFW members are those who have voluntarily been displaying these flags at these locations for EIGHT YEARS PRIOR
You're providing information that was in the post.
// the MN-DOT Dept will have to spend tax dollars to do what they are reportedly going to do!
So are you saying the issue isn't the display of the flag, it's the spending of tax dollars to display the flag?
// I'd rather see the sniveling whiner who started this uproar "Tar'd & Feather'd"
You see the irony in that statement, right?
Look, the reason it's a win-win is because everyone whose birthdate isn't 7/19/12 knew where this was heading. It was a protest that was going to bring the demagogues out in numbers. Now we get the flag and we don't have to listen to the demagogues who were going to be out in record numbers, many claiming the flag and its meaning is full exclusive to their political point of view.
Now, let's talk a little bit about being educated about the flag. For the record, I've discussed flag etiquette for years here and for a good reason. The very first step to showing respect for the flag, is to educate yourself on the proper way to show that respect and what is or isn't proper etiquette. You don't think it matters? That's fine. I think it does.
I appreciate your comments and I certainly appreciate the work of the VFW. What I find generally offensive is the suggestion that to truly appreciate the flag, its meaning, and the rules surrounding its display, you have to be a veteran.
That flag belongs just as much to me as it does to anyone else and nobody gets the exclusive right to defend it.