Chesterfield post office flying flag illegally

By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – The American flag is to be taken down or illuminated during hours of darkness. It's a federal law and a sign of respect. But night after night, for weeks, even on Flag Day the Bon Air Post Office violated this law. Tonight we shine a light on the problem.

It's barely visible; the American flag flying in front of the Bon Air Post Office in Chesterfield. On numerous nights, over the last two weeks our cameras caught Old Glory flying illegally at the government agency.

"It should come down at night when it's not illuminated. At night meaning by sundown," said Dale Chapman, Executive Director of the American Legion.

There is a light fixture atop the building for the flag. Some call the post office's "lack of light" a slap in the face especially to military veterans and others who've fought for the freedom the flag represents.

"You'd think the federal and state government who fly it on a normal basis would research and do - or take whatever effort, it takes to learn how to properly display the flag and do so," said retired military veteran Richard Oertel.

The state capitol, nonprofit organizations, even McDonald's have lights shining on the American flag at night. We asked the Bon Air Post Office why it was breaking federal law by not illuminating the flag after dark.

"What we found was that there was a short in the electrical wiring and the problem was intensified because it was underground," said USPS District Communication Coordinator Cathy Boule.

Although several NBC12 viewers say they've complained about the problem to employees at the post office, Cathy Boule says the agency wasn't aware of the situation until we contacted it.

"We do apologize very much for having the flag unlit at night. Of course we care about that. It's very important to us," said Boule.

Boule says it's unclear how many nights the flag was left in the dark. She says no one person at the agency is responsible for making sure it's lit.

"Flying a flag comes with responsibilities because that flag represents a big responsibility that we have as citizens, and that means we take care of our country," said Chapman.

Since we contacted the Bon Air Post Office about their unlit flag - the agency has since fixed the problem. And although the U.S. flag code is a federal law there's no penalty for failure to comply.

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