Letter - Treatment of flag leads to theft

To the editor:

My name is Dan Turner. Today, thanks to the property managers and/or owners of Meadow Crossing Apartments on Irwin Bridge Road, I am now a criminal. A petty thief. I realize there is no excuse for taking someone else's property, but I intend to return this property as soon as possible. However I also intend to make this issue a statement, and I'm willing to bear the consequence of my actions.

What brought me to this point of theft is the fact that I saw a flag on the ground on Saturday, Feb. 9. I could not stop and assumed that this was a result of a storm and would be remedied that day. But, Thursday morning, I drove by once again and our flag was still on the ground. Again, and regretfully, I could not stop to see if there was something to be done.

However, Friday morning, I could no longer wait, and since a week had passed without action from the Apartment Complex, inhabitants, staff or the hundreds of Americans that ride along Irwin Bridge Road, I decided that I would take the matter into my own hands. I stopped, took three photos of the flag on the ground and then took the flag from the property and into my possession.

I e-mailed my good friend, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Tom Golden, who is presently serving in Iraq at FOB Delta. This is Tom's second tour. I asked Tom if I could clean and send this flag to him with all the dignity that the flag deserves and would he be so kind as to fly this American Flag above FOB Delta for a week. Then, once that week of duty is up and as soon as possible, I asked him to return this flag back to me. I will at that time return this flag back to the "responsible party".

Let me first define "responsible party". If the managers or owners of the apartment complex are new to this country, they were naturalized with full knowledge of how this symbol of our country is to be treated at all times, whether resident or business. If they are a lifelong countryman/woman, they did know or should have known how to treat this flag at all times.

This flag was being used as landscape art, and a business flagging without the daily outdoor ceremony or night lighting it deserved. In the end, it simply was allowed to lie in the mud of the Irwin Bridge Road right of way for a week while managers, landscape personnel, employees, residents and neighbors simply ignored it lying on the ground. I sincerely hope that the "responsible party" will acknowledge the jeopardy that this flag presents each day in its journey and short tour of Iraq.

When I receive this flag back from Tom Golden, this flag will have gone up the flagpole in an active area that is under fire in Iraq. The personnel that will attend this flag hoisting and lowering each day will have risked their lives to stand above the bullet-stop façade each day, in range of an enemy that knows exactly what time each day this flag will be raised and lowered. No matter the jeopardy to that assembly of our military personnel at FOB Delta, they will snap to attention and direct their full respect to this same flag that I'm sending.

When this flag has returned from its tour, I hope that the owners know that others have placed their lives in jeopardy for this symbol that was allowed to lie on the ground for a week in front of their business. When they receive this flag, I hope they will have had ample opportunity to find a place that dignifies this symbol that has gone from lying in the road-front right of way all the way to the war zones in Iraq and back. It will be flown in plain view of the enemy and returned to Conyers after being saluted each day by our troops. This flag is a symbol of the reason that they put themselves in harm's way on our behalf.

I was compelled to this unfortunate action by my role as a Gold Star brother to PFC Michael Barry Turner, USMC, who died 40 years ago this week - Feb. 18, 1968, during the Tet Offensive at the Battle for Hue City. I hope you will recognize that my motive has merit and no ill intent.

You have my word that I will act accordingly to the above and hope you'll permit me this opportunity to assist the property owners in remembering the role of this American flag by this simple act.

Dan Turner