When Allen Thornwell lowered his employer’s American flag to half-staff on Memorial Day, he says he did not think to ask permission or consider the possibility that he had done anything wrong.
Charlotte Observer Instead, the 29-year-old former Marine, who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, says he was thinking about his country, the meaning of the holiday and his best friend, Geoff, another Marine who killed himself two years ago after returning stateside.
On Tuesday, Thornwell was fired. A manager at the placement service that arranged the vet’s job at Time Warner Cable in Charlotte, North Carolina told him that the company was disturbed by Thornwell’s “passion for the flag and (his) political affiliation.”
Thornwell also took his outrage to Facebook, naming Time Warner and posting a video. Contacted this week, Thornwell said he remains in shock over what happened. “I’m not even mad right now,” he says. “I don’t know what kind of moral compass you need to fire a veteran on Memorial Day for lowering the flag.”
A Time Warner Cable spokesman confirmed Friday that the former Marine “was no longer under contract” with the company but declined further comment.
Charlotte attorney Murph Archibald, whom Thornwell called after the incident, says his client should have never lost his job. “It’s disgraceful,” says Archibald, a Vietnam vet. “He didn’t do anything wrong. He’s a veteran working on Memorial Day who corrected what he thought was a disrespectful flying of the American flag … I would have taken it down myself.”
Today, fewer than 1 percent of Americans wear a uniform. “Not only do the vast majority not serve, but they don’t really know anybody who does,” says Woodbridge, editor of the monthly Marine Corps Gazette.
Thornwell attributes his behavior to deeper emotions he felt throughout the day about his country, his dead friend and his own service. For the first time in his life, he says, he understood the true meaning of Memorial Day, and he felt it, too. Now he needs a job.
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