US veteran quits job after being told he can’t wear face covering with

The debate concerning the wearing of masks during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has raged for a while now.

The general consensus is that wearing masks minimizes the risk of transmitting coronavirus, which is a fairly logical assessment to make given how the virus is spread.

Of course, there are others who are point-blank refusing to wear masks, claiming that orders to do so are impinging on their freedom … etc etc, insert poor excuse here.

And yet, while you may have differing opinions over whether masks should be mandatory or not, for me the type of mask one wears shouldn’t really come into the question.

Well, it has, and in a big way, after an Air Force veteran quit his job in Havelock, North Carolina after being told he couldn’t wear a face covering sporting the American flag.

Credit / Wikimedia

The town of Havelock has its roots firmly lodged in the military. It’s the home of the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, the world’s largest Marine Corps air station.

And yet 69-year-old Gary Dean says he was shocked and bemused to see a new policy at the Food Lion where he worked.

He explained: “Apparently corporate came down and said ‘Somebody was offended by the image of the American flag on the face covering.”

Gary had been wearing the washable mask throughout the pandemic, but was told that he was forbidden from donning it. Naturally, he resisted.

“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,” he explained.

Food Lion, meanwhile, maintained that while it respects the American flag, the policy “prohibits associates from wearing clothing with writing, insignia, or symbols.”

“I love this country,” Gary continued. “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.” 

While Gary stressed that he isn’t angry with the store manager at that particular Food Lion, he feels as though it’s his responsibility to take pride in the American flag and all that it stands for.

Food Lion’s full statement on their policy can be seen below:

“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.”

I’m not so sure how I feel about this. On the one hand I feel like everyone is entitled to an opinion, but making a veteran remove his mask just because it bears the flag of his country?

What do you think? Should Gary have been forced to take off his mask? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box.

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