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Veterans React To Controversial Flag Sculpture

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DEPTFORD TOWNSHIP, N.J. -

A sculpture that was supposed to show off a South Jersey township's patriotism is causing controversy tonight.

"They fought for the flag, they stood under the flag and they believe in the flag and what it represents," says Michael Andreas, past commander of the Mantua VFW.

The beautiful artistic creation, made of bricks and erected high into the air is supposed to symbolize the American flag proudly blowing in the wind. An artist, also a navy veteran, created it to honor fellow veterans. But many veterans are outraged by the design of the flag.

"I was surprised that happened," says Robert Dunn, commander of the Mantua VFW. "If they could just lift it up off the ground. That's all we're asking."

Look again at a picture and you'll see what he's talking about. The bottom of the flag sits on the ground, then gradually slopes up to a wall. People have complained about visitors walking on the flag and kids skating boarding on it.

"I thought that it was disrespectful," says Dunn.

Members of the Mantua VFW nearby are stunned.

"Perhaps the Veterans Committee that had been established for this park that was being installed should have been consulted before this plan went forward," says Andreas.

Many believe that the artist had good intentions with the monument. It sits at the entrance to the Veterans Memorial Park at Cornell and College Boulevard in Deptford. But John Brubaker, who just returned from serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom says it sends the wrong message.

"If a flag touches the ground, that flag is supposed to be cut up and burned and a new flag put in its place," says Brubaker. "You pretty much just dishonored that veteran right in front of him because that veteran takes the flag for granted. That's who we are."

Veterans who aired their concerns to the mayor worry that township officials don't understand.

"They didn't say we don't care, but it's kind of what it is. They don't care about it," says Dunn.

FOX 29 spoke to Deptford's mayor on the phone. He says the township is working with the artist to figure out what to do, so that no one walks on the flag. A meeting on the issue is scheduled on September 9th.

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