Veterans in the Delaware County community of Bernice are frustrated after the town council votes only to replace two flags that are being flown on the city’s veterans war memorial.
Veterans here say they believe all the flags should be replaced. They tell me they feel disrespected while some council members say the reason behind the decision is based on financial hardships the city is facing.
“It’s a slap in the face, you know,” said Michael Merit, commander of VFW Post 2592. “Many brave American men and women have fought and died for this country and still do every day all around the globe.”
In a recent 3-2 vote, the town council voted to only replace the American and the Oklahoma State flag.
Merit says other flags are tattered and worn out and need to be replaced. He says this boils down to a respect issue for the men and women in the armed forces.
“Any time it’s torn…that needs to come down, or they fade to the point that you can’t see what’s on them,” stated Merit.
The town council members and the mayor say the city is facing a financial hardship. Replacing the flags would cost about $430.
The councilors who voted against replacing the flags say they support veterans and it is not their intent to disrespect them.
Merit says that, “regardless of whether or not they say it’s not their intent to dishonor veterans, that’s what they’re doing. That’s the perception.”
The mayor says the city donated a flagpole to the VFW and says they will replace the flags at some point. In the meantime, Merit says not having a memorial properly representing them is unacceptable.
“A bad mark on Bernice. A bad mark on those members, the council members, who voted against this and is just absolutely abhorrent,” declared Merit.
Merit set up a GoFundMe page and has received cash donations with the intention of using the money to maintain the flags over time. They are also having a fundraising BBQ on Saturday.