Republican state leaders are demanding the American flag be reinstated at a veterans cemetery, where some Mississippi residents noticed on Memorial Day it had been replaced with a rainbow LGBTQ flag for June pride month.
American flags flying over the Biloxi National Cemetery and VA Medical Center were replaced with rainbow LGBTQ flags after Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough authorized the flying of such flags above VA facilities.
The decision was dubbed a “political stunt” by Republicans in the state Senate who are calling for its removal out of respect for “service members, veterans and their families.”
“We believe this decisions shows deep disrespect to our service members, veterans and their families, and demand that you take immediate action to restore the United States flag to its rightful place at Veterans Affairs facilities across the state of Mississippi,” five Mississippi Republicans wrote in a letter to McDonough Monday.
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“Replacing the United States flag with a flag that promotes particular sexual or gender identity goes against the very mission of our national cemeteries,” the Republicans wrote in a joint letter. “This political stunt is yet another example of this Administration’s willingness to promote its political agenda rather than focus on its mission as the executive branch. Our veterans expect the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide services, not promote controversial ideologies.”
Some residents also participated in an “impromptu protest against the disrespecting of our veterans” outside Biloxi National Cemetery this week.
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“Taking down American flags and replacing them with pride flags is a disgrace. All people are represented by the Stars and Stripes. Black, white, latino, gay, straight, Christian, Jewish or Muslim are all represented under the US Flag,” Mississippi resident Carl Boyanton wrote on Facebook from the site of the protest.
Boyanton is arranging another protest for Friday, saying “we have to show up to fight this woke agenda.”
The office of Veterans Affairs told Fox News Digital that while they respect the protests, the flag is a symbol of “VA’s commitment to inclusion and as a tribute to the service and sacrifice of LGBTQ+ Veterans.”
“Protest is a fundamental part of our democracy, and we respect anyone’s right to protest VA for any reason. Secretary McDonough authorized the flying of the Pride flag above VA facilities for the duration of Pride Month, as he has done in previous years,” Terrence Hayes, Veterans Affairs press secretary, told Fox News Digital in a statement Tuesday.
“VA facilities fly the flag as a symbol of VA’s commitment to inclusion and as a tribute to the service and sacrifice of LGBTQ+ Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors,” Hayes said, noting that VA would be directly contacting their congressional partners on the matter.