Updated: Saturday, October 12 2013, 12:55 AM CDT DEFUNIAK SPRINGS —
In frustration over the Washington stalemate, a Defuniak Springs businessman is now flying his American flag upside down.
In the military, that’s considered a distress call. He told Channel Three’s Laura Hussey the suspension of military death benefits was more than he could stand. Defuniak Springs is small-town America. Lots of people here fly the American flag. One of those proud citizens says events in Washington have compelled him to turn his patriotism into a protest.
The flag in front of Ed Armbruster’s business complex has been flying upside down since Thursday morning. Ed Armbruster “In the military, we know when they turn the flag upside down, there’s a very big problem. Period.”
At least 29 service members have died on active duty since the shutdown began. Armbruster was outraged to learn that death benefits for their families were suspended because of the government shutdown.
The soft-spoken veteran of three wars made a plan and told his son. Ed “I said Michael, tomorrow we’re going down and take the flag down and we’re going to turn it upside down. He says dad, you shouldn’t do that. I said well, I don’t care what they think.”
Neighbor John Johnson wasn’t sure what to think. People were stopping by his office to ask about the upside down flag. John Johnson “At first I thought it was unpatriotic, but seems like a legitimate political statement, being a distress call and all”
Paul Jones is a twenty-year veteran who works across the street. He says Armbruster is making an “Outstanding Statement” Paul “More people should stand up like that. Bear the burden” The president has now signed a measure to restore death benefits.
But Armbruster says the damage is done. An America where it could happen at all is not the America he grew up in. Ed “My personal belief is that when this next election comes, I think they should throw everybody out” Mr. Armbruster says he’s not ready to flip his flag back to normal just yet. Lots of people will be on the roads this weekend; he wants to make them think.