Last updated on August 24th, 2023 at 07:57 am
In the Buffalo, New York suburb of Hamburg, residents recently expressed their dismay when a Pride flag was perceived to have replaced the traditional POW/MIA flag at the town hall. The Coalition for Equity and Inclusion in Hamburg had raised the Pride flag on Friday to commemorate the onset of Pride month. The change sparked controversy, as town board member Beth Farrell voiced her disapproval on social media, suggesting that the Pride flag could have been displayed without seeming to disrespect veterans and those MIA.
The outcry from Farrell and other Hamburg residents led to Town Supervisor Randy Hoak clarifying that the replacement was a misunderstanding. According to Hoak, the POW/MIA flag had become frayed and worn, and was taken down for replacement. The worn-out flag was given to the town clerk for appropriate disposal, and its replacement was ordered immediately. Hoak reiterated that there was no intention to permanently remove the POW/MIA flag.
Hoak, who comes from a family with a strong military tradition, expressed his understanding of the significance of the POW/MIA flag. He underlined the importance of the flag as a reminder of the sacrifices made by those who didn’t return from the battlefield, and the pain endured by their families. Hamburg’s town clerk, Cathy Rybczynski, confirmed that she had ordered a new POW/MIA flag due to the existing one’s condition.
The issue of the flag drew attention from residents, including veterans, and resulted in approximately a dozen calls to Hoak’s office. One veteran stated that while he had no objections to the Pride flag, he did not believe it should share the same flagpole as the American and POW/MIA flags. The matter escalated to the point where an upset veteran, later charged with harassment, allegedly slapped Hoak.
As of Monday, the Hamburg Town Hall had rectified the situation, with a new POW/MIA flag flying alongside the American flag and the Pride flag. The Coalition for Equity and Inclusion celebrated the occasion with a Facebook post, expressing their support for Hamburg’s LGBTQ+ citizens.