An interesting item in the Birmingham News: Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley refused a soldier’s request for a state flag to make Afghanistan feel a little more like home, saying it simply could not afford it. Then Bentley changed his mind–presumably after the story hit the papers–and agreed to comp the E-7.
Sgt. 1st Class Howard J. Blake Jr. had offered to send the governor a photo of himself and other soldiers flying the flag overseas. “I understand that you have more important things to do than send things out to the other side of the planet, but this would surely make our stay here feel more like home, a home back in Bama that we all talk about almost daily.”
Jennifer Ardis, Bentley’s press secretary, said that the governor’s office gives state flags to the next of kin of Alabamians who die while serving in the U.S. armed forces, but cannot afford to give flags to other people. She said the governor’s office gets 50 to 100 requests per month for state flags from church and school groups, people celebrating retirements and weddings, soldiers about to be deployed and many other people.
A 3-foot by 5-foot nylon flag retails for $30.
Blake told the Birmingham News that he has paid Alabama income taxes for years even though he hasn’t lived there. He added, “I do not feel that I am entitled to any special treatment just because I am a soldier, but I did feel abandoned by a home state that I am proud to be from.”
In a sarcastic e-mail to Blake’s office, he wrote, Blake wrote in an e-mail to the governor’s secretary, “Enjoy your day in an air-conditioned office while we continue to sweat out here, defending your right to be so aloof to your constituents.”
Is this a soldier with a sense of entitlement who over-played his patriotism card or was this a legit request?