The Pryor Times

October 19, 2013

Veteran’s flipped flag ‘sign of distress’

Staff Writer
Susan Wagoner

PRYOR, OK — Don Howell loves his country. He served in the Marine Corps for 20 years and proudly flew his American flag on a pole in his front yard.

But several days into the government shutdown, Howell began to fly it upside down.

“It’s not a sign of disrespect,” Howell explained. “It’s a sign of distress.”

He also began placing his “Forever” stamps of the flag upside down on envelopes.

“There is no greater symbol than the flag,” he said. “Our country is in distress. I believe that by flying the flag upside down I’m telling the world that our country is in trouble.”

Howell didn’t just tell the world, he told the president.

“I contacted the White House on the day I started and told them that as of that day I would be flying the flag that way as a distress signal and would do so until they fixed the situation,” he said. “To hold our country hostage is crap.”

Howell said the members of congress are out of touch with reality.

“We live paycheck to paycheck supporting this country,” he said. “All the government does is cloud the issues. They should put America and Americans first.”

Howell said he was disgusted to learn that due to the shutdown veteran benefits weren’t being paid to families who lost loved ones.

“It’s disgraceful,” he said. “I think everyone should be fired and sent to prison. They should be disciplined for conduct unbecoming.”

At that moment, news of a compromise scrolled across the television. The shutdown was over.

Soon after, Howell lowered his flag and then raised it again, with the stars prominently displayed at the top.

“We can complain all we want about this country, but she’s still hands down the best country in the world,” he said.

And as a veteran who has traveled the world in service of his country, he’s one to know.