Flag Mask At Food Lion.

Gary Dean is a 69 year old Air Force veteran who was working in a Food Lion in Havelock, North Carolina.

As part of the concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, Food Lion required that all employees wear a mask.

Dean decided to wear a bandana type mask with the American Flag. Someone complained about it which made Dean angry.

It was that anger, Dean says, that caused him to quit his job at the Food Lion’s Havelock location Tuesday. Dean says a manager approached him that afternoon, telling him he could no longer wear his face covering with the American flag printed on it.

“Apparently corporate came down and said ‘somebody was offended by the image of the American flag on the face covering,'” he said.

Dean says he had been wearing the face covering for months without issue and says when asked to take off his flag, he felt it was against his values.

“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,” Dean explained. “I had to quit, out of principle.”

(emphasis ours)

Dean also spoke to Todd Starnes on his radio show. Starnes wrote about the conversation:

“You either honor the American flag or you don’t honor the American flag,” Mr. Dean told me. “The pride runs deep through my veins.”

And that’s why the 69-year-old Air Force veteran decided to turn in his notice.

“I stood my ground. If I can’t wear this flag, I can’t work here so I left,” he said. (emphasis ours)

Food Lion issued a statement on their mask policy:

“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.”

After the outrage Dean’s story caused, Food Lion reversed it’s policy.

Dean believes his post on Facebook pushed people to stand with him and prompted Food Lion officials to give him a call.

He said we’ve heard your voice and we’ve heard so many other voices too and we’ve decided to change our policy and allow the American Flag mask, the one I have around my neck here, the one that has caused all of the controversy and I said I want you to know I really thank you for that.

Corporate officials with the Food Lion grocery store announced they have changed their face covering policy.

The policy change will now allow patriotic emblems.

Dean’s story has now been heard nationally, and he says this is a win for everyone.

It was just a statement of faith and a statement of my belief in my country and my flag that’s all it took off on its own because its a good cause and it worked. We won, God won, the county won, freedom won.

(emphasis ours)

We aren’t sure why the flag bandana / mask was reported with someone saying it was “offensive.” It very well could be that in these troubled times, someone is “offended” by the image of the US Flag. It could be that like us, people were upset that the flag was being used as a piece of clothing.

From the US Code on the flag:

(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.

It could be like us, someone was upset that the reason for wearing a mask it to prevent possible COVID-19 droplets from the nose and mouth spreading, that they don’t like the idea of someone essentially spitting on the US Flag.

Instead of respecting the flag, in our opinion Dean was disrespecting the flag and wrapping himself up in some sort of faux flag patriotism.

We say that because despite Dean’s references to “the flag,” (that we emphasized) he himself says the covering is not a flag:

He also adds the face covering is just a print and wants to make sure it is clear he is not using an actual American flag to cover his face.

So which is it? He told the world that it was a flag, and then it wasn’t a flag.

Perhaps we are over-reacting.

We have seen other masks with part of the flag imprinted on them. We have seen masks with a small emblem (like a patch) of the flag in the corner. Yet to us, this crosses a line.

Years ago, one of the highest honors a member of the military could receive was to be appointed a flag bearer. These were the men that lead the charge into battle. Because they were carrying the flag, they were essentially unarmed, yet at the front of the charge where other unit members could see them. If the flag bearer was wounded or killed, another member of the unit would pick up the flag and continue on.

Somehow we don’t see that type of courage and patriotism being the same as someone working in a grocery store, spitting and sweating on the US Flag – image or not.

That’s just us, though.

11 Responses to “Flag Mask At Food Lion.”

  1. Lebewski says:

    Really, no comments on this? Very sad state of affairs in this country for not standing up for the FLAG! Where are you Citizens….

  2. Lebewski says:

    Too late of a post I guess. Just maybe…Silence is Golden? As a properly and legitimately Naturalized U.S. Citizen I thank the retired USAF HARD WORKING AMERICAN FOR SERVING! GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!! All that have read this article and not commented with support bring tears and a sinking HEART to Exceptionalism and one day you will realize it is too late sadly I must say!!!




    • AAfterwit says:


      Thanks for the comment.

      We are a bit confused, however.

      First, we did not denigrate the man’s service. We would never do that. Relatively speaking, his service was not that long (4 years active and 2 in the reserve) but length doesn’t matter. He wore the uniform and we appreciate that service.

      However, we see the wearing of the flag as an article of clothing, and particularly as a mask that will be spit upon, as being disrespectful to the flag itself and what it stands for. We agree with the idea of American Exceptionalism which is why we prefer a more respectful display of the flag itself.

      We aren’t sure if you agree with that or support Dean’s use of the flag as a mask.

      It is not the flag that bothers us. It is the use in this case with which we disagree.

      Thanks again.

      A. Afterwit.

  3. Percy says:

    While I fully support veterans, the US flag, and the 1st amendment I was taught that the US flag should never be worn as an article of clothing. I think wearing the flag as clothing is disrespectful. That said, perhaps if folks could just wear the red, white, and blue colors without the stars and bars I could get behind them more. As a vet he should have known this too.

    • ruralcounsel says:

      You make a common mistake. Something printed with what looks like the pattern of a US flag is not a US flag. The rule applies to actual US flags, not just things printed with that pattern. If he had taken an actual flag and used it to cover his face, you’d have a point.

      And it was clearly the pattern that offended someone. Piss on them. They don’t deserve to live in this country.

      • AAfterwit says:


        Thanks for the comment.

        Mr. Dean says that he was wearing the flag. He then later back tracks to say it was not a flag but an print.

        And it was clearly the pattern that offended someone. Piss on them. They don’t deserve to live in this country.

        The depiction of the flag doesn’t bother us at all. As we stated in the article and our responses, we object to the flag – image or actual flag – being spit and “snotted” upon.

        What’s next?

        After all, this would allow people to, as you say, “piss on them.”

        Thanks again.

        A. Afterwit.

        • ruralcounsel says:

          Well, anyone can say “piss on them” for anything, of course.

          And what Mr. Dean says is or is not a “flag” is irrelevant, except perhaps to him. What is relevant is what is considered to be an official U.S. flag.

          See Title 4 USC Section 8 (which only applies to real US flags) and Ex. Ord. No. 10834. Proportions and Sizes of Flags and Position of Stars. I think you will find his facemask did not conform to all the requirements of an official U.S. flag.

          Just like Thin Blue Line flags are not “official” U.S. flags which have been desecrated.

          You will find there is a gaping legal differentiation between putting a flag-like print on some object, and an actual flag.

          And of course, in our land of freedom, anyone is allowed to do pretty much as they please to any flag or image of a flag that they choose, so long as they are the legal owners. Which is why flag ettiquette cannot be legally enforced.

          • AAfterwit says:


            Thanks for the comment.

            And what Mr. Dean says is or is not a “flag” is irrelevant, except perhaps to him. What is relevant is what is considered to be an official U.S. flag.

            Of course it is relevant as to what Dean thinks.

            In his own words, Dean said he wasn’t wrapping himself in an image. He was wrapping himself in what he declared to be a “United States flag.”

            We aren’t saying that Dean should be prosecuted or anything.

            What we are saying is that Dean, while claiming to be patriotic and respecting the flag, was in fact spitting and “snotting” on something he claimed was the flag.

            Just as Dean can claim to be outraged at those who don’t want him to be wearing (what he called the) flag, we too have the right to be outraged at his actions.

            There are those who wrap themselves in flags and blow the tinny trumpet of patriotism as a means of fooling the people. – George Galloway

            A. Afterwit.

    • AAfterwit says:


      Thanks for the comment.

      Your sentiment is the same as ours. We support the flag, the First Amendment and vets. We think there are better choices for Dean to have chosen than a US Flag.

      Certainly we agree that he has the right under the First Amendment to do what he is doing. At the same time, we have the same right yo say “that’s wrong and disrespectful and being a vet doesn’t change that.”

      Thanks again.

      A. Afterwit.

      • Lebewski says:

        rural council captured at minimum part of the essence of what I stated. Understanding the poignancy of her/his comment was responded to by a “limited intellectual capacity” post!!

        Grammer school childish style picture search as a response? Additionally, verbage reflecting time of service and more limited capacity circular character statements? PLAIN AND SIMPLE…YOU MISSED THE POINT!!

        • AAfterwit says:


          We initially asked that you clarify your comments as they made little sense to us as to your point.

          We’ll say it again.

          Mr. Dean served in the military and we are not denigrating his service. We question the use of what he described in his own words as a “flag” while trying to wrap himself in the sanctity of that flag. We would be ashamed to wear even an image of a flag in something that we were going to spit on all day. Apparently that use doesn’t bother you.

          So be it.

          Mr. Dean has the right to express himself as do we. He has the right to claim a faux patriotism in “the flag” and we have the absolute right to say “that’s not patriotism.”

          If anyone has missed the point, it is you.

          Thanks again.

          A. Afterwit.