Army veteran in West Richland turns flag upside down to signal nation's distress after election

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldNovember 14, 2012 

— The upside down flag outside the Strickland family's West Richland home isn't a mistake. It's a statement.

Bill Strickland knows his flag etiquette. He's an Army veteran who served for almost 15 years and was wounded in Iraq.

He said he's not trying to show disrespect for the flag he fought for, but rather to tell the world he thinks the country is in distress. An upside down flag is a "a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property," according to the U.S. flag code.

"I've felt for a while the country's in distress. I've served in the military and as you come up through the ranks, you learn military history and trivia, so doing this was in the back of my mind. After the election, it just popped into my head. I reversed it that night," he said.

Strickland was deployed to Iraq with the 737 Army Transportation Unit on Dec. 3, 2006. His tour was cut short when he was wounded in 2007. When he came home, community members, veterans, city leaders and businesses volunteered to landscape his yard.

The reversed flag has been flying for more than a week, day and night, and so far no one's made any comments to Strickland.

He said he's not so much an ardent supporter of Mitt Romney, though he liked some things Romney had to say during the presidential race.

"In some ways he's the lesser of two evils. Obama, he has too many connections that make me uncomfortable. I don't like some of the people he's had in the White House," he said.

His concern is the way the country is going, especially on the federal level.

"I've spent half my life in the military and to see the way the military is going with cutbacks and the way they're being treated, not by the people but on the government level, it concerns me. The military is downsizing and with the current situation we find ourselves in, I don't like to see the military cut back like it is," he said.

Strickland said he has had no second thoughts about turning his flag upside down.

"I stand pretty firm in my belief the country is in distress," he said.

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