Republican state leaders are demanding the U.S. flag be restored to a veterans’ cemetery, where some Mississippi residents noticed on Memorial Day that it had been replaced with an LGBTQ rainbow flag for pride month in June.
U.S. flags flying over the Biloxi National Cemetery and VA Medical Center were replaced with LGBTQ rainbow flags after Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough authorized such flags to be flown over VA facilities.
The decision was called a “political stunt” by Senate Republicans, who called for its removal out of respect for “servicemen, veterans and their families”.
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“We believe this decision demonstrates a deep disrespect for our military personnel, veterans and their families, and demand that you take immediate action to return the U.S. flag to its rightful place at Veterans Affairs facilities in the state of Mississippi wrote five Republicans from Mississippi. in a letter to McDonough Monday.
Pride flag over Biloxi VA Medical Center (Courtesy of Carl Boyanton)
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“Replacing the U.S. flag with one that promotes a particular sexual or gender identity goes against the 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 an executive. Our veterans expect the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide services, not promote controversial ideologies. “
Some residents also took part in an “impromptu protest against the disrespect for our veterans” outside Biloxi National Cemetery this week.
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“To take down American flags and replace 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 American flag, Mississippi resident Carl Boyanton wrote on Facebook from the site of the protest.
Mississippi residents are calling on the VA to remove the proud flag at Biloxi National Cemetery. (Courtesy of Carl Boyanton)
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Boyanton is organizing another protest for Friday, saying: “We must show up to fight this awakened agenda.”
The Veterans Affairs office 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 everyone’s right to protest against VA for any reason. Secretary McDonough authorized the flying of the Pride flag over 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.
Mississippi residents protest the proud flag being raised at Biloxi National Cemetery. (Courtesy of Carl Boyanton)
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“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 reaching out directly to their congressional partners on the matter.
Aubrie Spady is a freelance production assistant for Fox News Digital.