An Air Force veteran stated he quit his job in Havelock, North Carolina when he was told he couldn’t wear an American flag face covering. Havelock is a military town and is the home of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. It is the world’s largest Marine Corps air station, located about 440 miles from Camp Lejeune.
69-year-old Gary Dean was shocked when he saw an anti-American policy at the Food Lion where he worked. He stated, “Apparently corporate came down and said ‘Somebody was offended by the image of the American flag on the face covering.” Dean has reportedly been wearing the patriotic washable face covering for months with no issue due to the coronavirus pandemic. He said that when he was told to take it off, he couldn’t abide by the new rule.
He explained, “As a veteran, my dad being a World War II hero, my best friend killed in Vietnam, out of respect for them I can’t just say no, I’ll take my flag and put it in my pocket. I had to quit, out of principle.” A news outlet reached out to Food Lion about the policy, in which they said that while it respected the American flag, their policy “prohibits associates from wearing clothing with writing, insignia, or symbols.”
Luckily, Dean did note that he is not angry with the grocery store managers, but doesn’t think the corporate policy is being ignored in a way that disrespects the USA flag. He continued, “I love this country. I love that my dad went off and fought for my country, nearly got killed for this country but came back and raised a family. I love everything about that flag. So, yeah, that is my priority.” He added that his face covering is a print of the U.S. flag and not the actual American flag, which he could indeed see as being considered disrespectful.
Below is Food Lion’s full statement about the new policy.
“At Food Lion, we have great respect for the American flag. Like many other organizations, we also have policies that guide the attire and conduct of associates in the workplace. As part of our effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the well-being of our associates and customers, we’ve required associates to either wear reusable face masks provided by Food Lion or choose to wear a different face covering while working. However, all face coverings must adhere to standards set by the company and communicated to each of our more than 77,000 associates. The policy prohibits associates from wearing clothing with writing, insignia or symbols. The dress code is meant to ensure a consistent and professional representation of our associates inside of our stores.”
Several cities across the United States and the CDC have made it mandatory for people to wear masks while in public spaces as there has been a rise in COVID-19 cases. Several grocery stores and other retailers, such as H-E-B, Walmart, and Target have made it mandatory for people to use face masks or face coverings before entering their store.