PB Guardsmen rescue burning flag at Ferguson
FERGUSON, Mo. -- Two members of the Missouri National Guard from Poplar Bluff saw masked protesters light an American flag on fire, then drop it to the ground during a rowdy demonstration in Ferguson. Within seconds, the soldiers crossed into the fray and rescued the charred remains.
The announcement Nov. 24 that Ferguson officer Darren Wilson would not be charged in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown set off renewed protests. On Dec. 4, Missouri National Guard Maj. Lance Dell and Sgt. 1st Class Eric Allison were on guard at the protest near Ferguson police headquarters when they saw the flag set on fire.
They told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch they felt it was important to save the flag's remains.
"They treated the flag like it was trash," Allison, 43, said. "It's not trash to us."
The soldiers picked up what was left of it, folded as much as they could and picked up burnt-off pieces, then took it inside for safe keeping.
Dell, 46, said he and his men are well aware of the court rulings confirming that Americans have a constitutional right to burn the flag.
"But I knew we couldn't leave it just lying in the road," he said.
Dell and Allison are full-time National Guard members, assigned to the 205th Military Police Battalion in Poplar Bluff.
Both men spent 13 months in Afghanistan about four years ago.
Allison also spent 18 months in Iraq in 2004 and 2005.
They didn't even need to speak before acting to save what was left of the flag.
"My dad used to tell me that you can't even count the people who gave their lives so we can fly that flag. We love the flag, or at least what it stands for," Allison said.