Board member says upside down flag wasn’t intentional
By Jennifer Eisenbart
In the week since President Barack Obama earned re-election, it has become increasingly clear that many people disagree with the result.
Some might say the best local indication of that discontent could be found on the flagpole at 2000 Crossway Road in Burlington – the home owned by Phil and Bonnie Ketterhagen.
But Phil Ketterhagen, a fiscal conservative and member of the Burlington Area School District Board of Education, denied intentionally flying the American flag upside down Tuesday after a local man called the newspaper to complain about the flag earlier the same day.
The United States Code, as defined at Cornell University Law School site, states: “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.”
When contacted, Ketterhagen categorically denied doing it on purpose.
“I’ll be damned,” he said. “I’ll have to tell Bonnie someone screwed up when they put it up.”
A U.S. veteran who participated in the Dyer Intermediate School Veterans Day ceremonies last week, Ketterhagen said flying the flag against the code was unthinkable.
“I’m a military person,” Ketterhagen said. “There is no way I would intentionally do that. It would be against everything I’ve ever done.”
Ketterhagen said he was going to have his wife – also a prominent member of a local conservative group – check the flag Tuesday. He later emailed the newspaper with the following:
“If the flag is displayed incorrectly she is going to correct it,” he added. “I get home at darkness and do not know when someone did this.”
Reports of the United States flag being flown upside down have been made all over the country since the election results last week, including an instance in Wausau.
Jay Askin, a Burlington resident who called the newspaper earlier in the day to complain about the upside down flag said the display was disrespectful.
“(Obama) is a fairly elected Democratic president – show some respect,” he said. “The fact that he (Ketterhagen) is an elected official, too, just bothers me. It’s over the line.”
At the time he made his comments, Askin was not aware of Ketterhagen’s contention that did not know about the flag or was perhaps a victim of a prank.