Angry trucker puts up flag at truck stop, only to watch it come down

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by STEVE STOLER / WFAA

khou.com

Posted on May 30, 2012 at 10:24 AM

DENTON, Texas — The Stars and Stripes go hand-in-hand with Memorial Day. But when a truck driver saw a truck stop that wasn't flying the American flag, he took matters into his own hands.

He put up a American flag himself. The problem is, it didn't stay up for long.

David Ray Thornburg couldn't understand why the Travel Centers of America truck stop off Interstate 35 in Denton wasn't displaying Old Glory — especially on Memorial Day.

So he grabbed his video camera and went to Walmart. The store donated a flag. Thornburg went back to the truck stop, climbed up the pole and put up the flag.

His YouTube video tells the rest of the story. He explains that just after he put the flag up, truck stop employees took it down.

Thornburg called it “a slap in the face.”

The action angered other truckers — especially those who served in the military.

“I looked at the video on the Internet and then I started calling and e-mailing everyone,” said Clarence Lightford, a retired Marine.

Fred Miles, also a retired Marine, was also upset.

“Once the guy put the flag up, why couldn’t they just leave it up?" he asked "Why did they have to take it down?"

The owner of the Travel Centers of America franchise said the flagpole has been up for 20 years. Paul Schmieder told us he stopped flying the flag 10 years ago, because of wear and tear, improper lighting and maintenance constraints.

Schmieder said while he admires Thornburg's zeal for patriotism, he believes the driver's intent was to make trouble. It's private property, the owner went on to say.

"We just can't have people climbing the pole," Schmieder said. "What kind of rights do I have?"

But Thornburg insists the flag should have stayed.

“It was Memorial Day," he said. "Why couldn’t they just let it fly once it was up?”

The truck stop owner said he's patriotic, too. But that's not likely to stop a wave of complaints to the corporate headquarters in Ohio.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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