The POW/MIA flag is the only flag aside from the U.S. flag to be flown over the White House.

Designed in 1972 on behalf of the National League of POW/MIA Families, the flag represents the more than 82,000 American veterans still unaccounted for — including 72,408 from World War II; 7,729 from the Korean War; 1,589 from Vietnam and 117 from the Cold War, as estimated by the U.S. Dept. of Defense. These people, presumably, made the ultimate sacrifice for this country.

But that wasn’t enough to sway Franklin County Supervisors to fly the flag at its buildings.

Hardy resident Salvatore Monastra waited nearly a year for an answer to his request to fly the POW/MIA flag under the U.S. flag at government buildings. When received, the answer was a denial — with the exception of being flown at the Veterans’ Memorial in Rocky Mount.

In a March 22 letter from Board of Supervisors Chairman Cline Brubaker, Monastra’s request was denied due to the legal recommendation to the board that “entertaining such a request may obligate the County to fly or display other flags in the future representing causes that may not align or properly represent our community.”

Concern is warranted given the heated debate surrounding other flags such as the confederate flag, however, the POW/MIA flag is flown at each U.S. post office, major military installations, national cemeteries, the Capitol Rotunda and war memorials. It is also flown at buildings containing the offices of Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Director of the Selective Service System.

Monastra approached officials with Bedford and Roanoke counties with the same proposal. While he has not had a response from officials in Roanoke, Bedford supervisors agreed to fly the flag in 11 county locations. He approached the Bedford Board of Supervisors March 25 and they voted in agreement April 8. The flags are now proudly flying.

It’s great that Franklin County Supervisors agreed to fly the flag at the Veterans’ Memorial. This is an appropriate place to honor all military members active, inactive, deceased and missing.

Perhaps a compromise would be to fly the POW/MIA flag at the county buildings on certain days as outlined by the Department of Defense: Armed Forces Day (3rd Saturday in May); Memorial Day (Last Monday in May); Flag Day (June 14); Independence Day (July 4); National POW/MIA Recognition Day (third Friday in September); Veterans Day (Nov. 11). These are the days that according to Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act, the POW/MIA flag must be flown on at certain federal buildings.

If county officials can refuse this request, can’t they just refuse other requests in the future? Isn’t that what being an elected official means … making the tough decisions? This decision shouldn’t be about setting a precedent; it should be about honoring those who fought for our freedom and our country.

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