KTTH OPINION

Rantz: Veteran outraged as building flew shredded American flag over pristine LGBT Pride flag

Jul 8, 2024, 6:18 PM

shredded American flag...

A Tacoma building housing the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services with a ripped American flag flying above a Pride flag. (Photo courtesy of Retired Lieutenant Colonel William O'Neal)

(Photo courtesy of Retired Lieutenant Colonel William O'Neal)

A local veteran was outraged that a building housing a Washington state agency was flying a shredded American flag over a well-maintained LGBT Pride flag in the weeks leading up to Independence Day. When he tried to get the building to replace the flag, he said he was initially blown off.

William O’Neal is a retired Lieutenant Colonel, having served in the Army for 21 years. A week before Independence Day, the Vietnam veteran was driving by a building in Tacoma and noticed it “was flying an American flag in shreds! Our flag was in shreds!” Below the shredded shredded American flag was a “brand new rainbow flag.”

O’Neal wondered how someone could think it was appropriate to fly a shredded American flag after seeing it in clearly unacceptable condition when adding the rainbow flag for LGBT Pride month.

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How did this veteran try to help after seeing the shredded American flag?

O’Neal couldn’t shake his disgust with the situation and vowed to do something to make it right. After all, it was nearly Independence Day, making the slight even more stinging. And, as it turns out, O’Neal said always carries an extra flag in his car. Whenever he sees a flag in need of retirement, he will leave one to be used as a replacement.

“I had a large, unused American flag left over from my time as a bugler on the Honor Guard at Tahoma National Cemetery. I vowed to donate this flag to the building,” O’Neal said.

On July 2, O’Neal returned to the building. He learned it housed the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). He said he was blown off by a rude, unidentified staff member who dismissed his request to donate the flag. O’Neal told “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH that he was left “completely dumbfounded.” This is an issue he takes seriously.

“I grew up in a small town in Ohio. We had parades, we flew the flags. I was a Boy Scout. I was drafted into the service back in ’61. And I just love our country so much that, to me, the flag stands as a symbol for all of us. Each and every citizen who walks around in this great country,” he explained.

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‘I just couldn’t believe these people’

After asking, “What do you want?” O’Neal said the staff member explained to him that they knew about the shredded flag, but could not accept his flag. He was told to “call the company that takes care of the building.”

“This is terrible, our country’s flag is shredded on Independence Day. I fought for our country under this flag for 21 years. What a world we have,” he remembered telling the staffer.

“It sounded like two days before the Fourth of July, here’s this flag shredded and torn. And no one in there seems to be interested in the flag and what it stood for in our history. It’s the flag for all of us. And I just couldn’t believe these people,” he told “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH.

Dejected, O’Neal headed back to his car, replacement flag still in hand. But that’s when he was approached by a building staff member who overheard the conversation.

It turns out that staffer was also a veteran. O’Neal said his fellow veteran told him that if he left the flag with him, he would make sure that it got put up. An appreciative O’Neal gave the staffer a veteran challenge coin and thanked him.

“As I got in my car, relieved, I was glad to be reassured that there were still some of us who would fight for what is right, for our Country, for Liberty, for Independence, for Our Flag on the Fourth of July!” O’Neal explained.

State and building management kept shredded flag up for weeks

While the building houses DSHS, a spokesperson explained to “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH that it is managed by J Squared Investments. That lessor is responsible for the display of flags at the building.

It’s unclear how long the shredded American flag was being displayed, or how it deteriorated to that condition. But management knew about the American flag’s condition at least two weeks earlier.

“We looked into this and confirmed that we made a request to the lessor on June 18, to have the flag replaced,” the spokesperson explained to “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH via email.

DSHS is not the only tenant in the building. A second, unidentified tenant also reported the shredded American flag to the lessor.

Building lessor explains the hold up

A Portfolio Manager for J Squared Investments reached out to “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH, following my request for comment.

“After being notified by the building owner that the American flag was worn, our building engineer went to replace it but found that a fellow engineer had used the last flag of the correct size at another property and an order for more American flags of all of the sizes we use was placed,” the Portfolio Manager explained to “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH.

She explained that the plan to replace and retire the shredded American flag was scheduled for the week of Independence Day when they planned to remove the Pride flag. In fact, she said “the tattered American flag was respectfully retired and replaced” the morning “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH reached out to DSHS for comment.

‘I’m not sure why this is newsworthy’

In her email, the J Squared Investments Portfolio Manager said, “I’m not sure why this is newsworthy.”

It was, no doubt, an innocent comment. But in an interview with “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH, O’Neal explained why he thought it was, in fact, newsworthy.

“I’m sure that there are people in this building in authority who would have liked to see that flag replaced, for sure,” he said, before adding he was surprised by their “hesitation” to help.

“My thought was ‘Who wouldn’t want to replace a flag if I just handed it to them?’ It was just completely unbelievable to me that there were Americans working in a building who wouldn’t … who couldn’t be able to even just accept the flag and ask their boss or supervisor or somebody to do something about it. I was just completely dumbfounded,” he explained.

Listen to “The Jason Rantz Show” on weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram, and  Facebook.

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