U.S. flag should be hung with honor

To the Editor:

While driving my wife to an appointment, I noticed an American flag hanging on the front door of a  home (that has other window displays) hanging upside down.

I am a Vietman vet and know what that flag represents and stands for. This shows no respect, honor or feelings for this flag that so many have died and honored through the years.

Those who can’t display this flag as it was meant to be, should get out of the country. — James Bilharz, Vietnam vet, Little Falls

  • robin hensel

    Bill…are you suggesting it is patriotic that those who dissent should leave this great nation? All American soldiers swear an oath to uphold the United States Constitution. It is every citizens right to display flags on their own property in whatever fashion they like. Where do you stuff that oat while making statements like you made in this letter to the editor? Just curious. Hope the moderator Terry Lehrke posts my comment, as this letter was directed at me.

    • tmac

      Yes, you do have the right to hang an American flag any way you want to.
      Others have the right to tell you how they feel about it.

      • robin hensel

        agree completely tmac. He has every right to tell me how he feels, but it is EXTREMELY UNPATRIOTIC to suggest a dissenter leave town. In court soon, it sure won’t be hard to prove how this community has really damaged my character. Thanks for all the help with that Little Falls. I save everything.

        • tmac

          Well actually I think he said you should leave the country, but I have no idea if this man has an issue with you personally or has an issue with whoever it was hanging a US flag upside down. I cannot understand why you think this man’s letter has damaged your character.
          If you did not want to attract attention to the flag why did you hang it upside down.?
          It seems you do things to draw attention to yourself and if people do not agree with you then you claim they somehow damage your character or they are out to get you.
          It makes no sense to me at all.

          • Jody Scott Olson

            I think you stand corrected. I think Robin is attempting to draw attention to serious issues in the community. The flag is upside down in protest and there is nothing unpatriotic about dissent and there is nothing PATRIOTIC about gutting civil and constitutional rights of any American.

            TMAC I replied repeatedly to your Disqus question regarding my letter to the editor on March 6, 2014 but because its a civil and intelligent statement the Record has once again refused to post it…they prefer to make it APPEAR as though I had good response.

          • Patrick J Bonniwell

            This comment makes no sense to me. The issues that are displayed at Robin’s
            residence are pretty huge issues. Issues that leaders of almost every
            single nation recognize has such. If the current events in this town
            aren’t reason enough to be in distress, I’m not sure what is. The issues
            that have come to light in this town are issues that are addressed much
            more appropriately in a town that has a listening public.
            Unfortunately, it’s become such common place in this town to just let
            these things go and now that a resident of this town is finally speaking
            out about clear violations of the towns own laws, as well as state
            mandated laws, there is a problem with her views and how she chooses to
            display those views.

            It’s a sad day when the very people that
            live in a city have to include lawyers and other outside parties to make
            sure the very people we have nominated into office are accountable, as
            any government official should be. Do I need to step into what’s
            happening in U.S Politics, it’s the same things people are angry at yet
            our town officials are held to a lesser standard. People need to stop
            taking such a slanted view on what’s being said and what’s going on,
            it’s causing to many in this town to focus on what’s not happening
            because of the obvious misuse of power and the inability to be informed
            on different things, instead of spending the money and the time on
            issues that have been prominent in this city for at least 2 decades. I
            can say from being a resident, leaving for 10 years and then coming
            back, that it hasn’t gotten better, just a lot more congested with
            problems that shouldn’t exists in the first place.

            Also, as an
            author to several other political pieces that keep both sides open, I’d
            recommend a simple Google search next time (Flag upside down), instead
            of just your opinion on the matter as it might help you better
            understand a persons reasoning from an educated stand point and save you
            some grace from misunderstanding the reason behind it.

          • Jody Scott Olson

            Well put Bonniwell:)

        • tmac

          I saw no names in this man’s letter to the editor.I do not understand how he can be damaging your character.

        • Mitch Rapp

          So just to clarify. It IS patriotic to hang the flag upside down, but it is unpatriotic when someone calls you out on it? Good thing I’m stupid or I would be thoroughly confused by now.

          • Jody Scott Olson

            An upside down flag is the nationally recognized symbol of distress. In America, its not unpatriotic to protest. Whether people agree with Robin or not there is something greater at stake. If we allow one individuals constitutional rights to be violated whose to say yours won’t be next?

            Beyond that, of what community benefit is the sign ordnance? Its a vain, ongoing waste of money and human resources…and I think the Morrison County Record might just be out of compliance on…yikes.

          • Mitch Rapp

            Yes Jody, you are correct. It’s the Nationally recognized symbol of distress. Not to be used willy nilly by someone who has a grudge against a small town city council. Get real here.

          • Jody Scott Olson

            So you think the sum and total of violations begin and end with a stand off between Robin and the city?

            I met Robin Hensel only after I tracked down her attorney. I asked him if he had considered filing suit against a larger group of local officials under RICO laws. He said it was definitely discussed. RICO laws were written for the mafia but have since been used to prosecute other networks of fraud, corruption and organized crime.

            Clue: FBI just shutdown and liquidated St. Francis Credit Union, which the Record called an “acquisition”, but every other news source in the state characterized as a raid by the federal government.

            If you think the sum and total rises and falls on a handful of signs in the front yard of one woman, the one who needs to wake up and “get real” is you.

          • tmac

            If you look in the Public notices on Feb 18, you will see that the Record publish a Liquidation notice .They also noted that
            it was an involuntary liquidation.
            Maybe the articles you mentioned could have been a bit more specific but I do not think the Record was trying to cover anything up or mislead the public.
            The information was there, in the Record.

          • Jody Scott Olson

            If this were an isolated incident, I would give them the benefit of the doubt but it isn’t. I worked for the Record, I know exactly what kind of information was removed from my stories. If council members used racist remarks that were tape recorded, direct quotes they would be removed from my story. When a school district went into statutory operation debt, the dept of ed publicly told the superintendent and school board that they failed in their fundamental fiduciary responsibility and scolded them…negative references were removed from my story. When they finished redacting, my story was made to sound like the dept of ed came in and said, gosh guys this is a shame. It was so flagrantly bad that I demanded my name be removed from the story, it no longer accurately depicted what occurred. During the same time, St. Otto’s won an award for nursing home excellence, while another local home had so many health and safety violation that the dept of health refused to allow the home to take new medicare patients.The findings by the dept of heath were published online which included violations that were considered life threatening. According to my conversation with the dept of health the move to disallow new medicare patients was the last move before taking the homes license. Despite the documented reports by the Dept of Health and my urging that the story be covered by the Record, Tom West refused to cover the story about the homes toilet-bowl state rating and the reports findings, stating that he was concerned about being sued.

            So as far as your comment “could be more specific”, I think that’s putting it mildly. Is the job of the reader is to glean and try to extrapolate information…connect the dots? This is our community’s only local news source. This paper is afford huge protections under first amendment laws. We had the most credible sources you could find and yet where is the transparency? And how does a lack of transparency impact the community? How does it influence the local viewpoint and democracy?

            If loving family members have no idea how serious the issues were then their loved ones were left to fate. My grandmother was in that home. I investigated after they “accidentally’ starved her for over a month. She lost 30 lbs and weighed about 85 when we figured out what was going on and moved her. She was skeletal but regained her weight after the move but she never walked again. Prior to moving her I witnessed numerous preventable injuries. Chair alarms that were ignored for a half hour…until I talked to the health dept I had no idea that I chair alarms were deemed an emergency by the state and required immediate attention! I am so very sorry for the family members who cared dearly for these residents and would have protected their loved ones if only they knew the seriousness of the situation these vulnerable people were left in.

            Our only community watch-dog is a preening pussy…cat. For this reason, Tom West and Terry Lehrke should be fired. If this paper wants to secure its position to survive the digital age then it damn well better understand it roots, pull itself up by its bootstraps and find it’s spine.

            If the Record wants to claim that removal of public notices will hamper transparency and democracy, then they first must play an instrumental role in guaranteeing it readership those very things.

          • Mitch Rapp

            Clue: St. Francis Credit Union has nothing to do with this.

          • tlehrke

            aprove

          • Jody Scott Olson

            St. Francis has nothing to do with this? According to who? You? We were talking about Robin Hensel flying the symbol of distress and whether or not our community is under siege by corruption. We were discussing HER viewpoint, not yours.

            Our community has had the Office of Civil Rights who came in and whipped the local school district into compliance with federal law. We had suits against non profits current suits against the Sheriff’s Dept, the suit against the city which they in part lost and the rest could be appealed…the shutdown of the credit union by FBI…and if the FBI is paying close attention, that investigation should expand to other organization who will remain nameless. Good old boy CORRUPTION has been center stage to everything Robin Hensel has done. While everyone is busy making her and her sign protest of small town corruption the issue, it seems we have more than our share of very good examples of…um, small town corruption.

          • Mitch Rapp

            We were not talking about our community being under siege by corruption. We were talking about a flag being flown upside down. I find it extremely disrespectful to fly our nation’s flag the wrong way. Either fly it correctly or don’t fly it at all. It’s that simple.

  • robin hensel

    tmac….it seems you have not been paying much attention. My signs, my speech, the upside down flag, signs on my vans, other countries flags flown in front of my house (in solidarity with those countries citizens), has all been about the ISSUES that are dear to my heart……NOT ATTENTION TO MYSELF. You don’t know me at all. One of the biggest problems in this quaint little river town, is intolerant individuals or groups of individuals. This area will NEVER thrive economically with this kind of mindset. This is in fact what is causing a lot of good people to leave our area. You are amongst many who feel that if a person has a differing view or a different method of opening up dialogue, somehow those folks should just disappear. Thanks for sharing with the readers, your real feelings. By the way, there have been many credible threats against my life and those around me. That is a FACT. There have been numerous comments posted on the comment thread for a long time, as well as comments made to me in public that have definitely damaged my character. Too numerous to list here. See you at council meeting tonight tmac. You will love my public forum comment.

    • tmac

      Where or when ever did I say that you or anyone I disagree with should leave the area or disappear? Please do not claim to know my “real feelings.”
      No one should have threats made against their life no matter how much you disagree with their point of view, that I can agree with.

  • Jeff

    First off: I want to thank Mr. Bilharz for his service! In a war that most of us could not even imagine being in, let alone living to talk about and write a “Letter to the editor” to defend a part of America that stands for everything our service men and women so bravely have and are fighting for!! Shame on all of you defending the right to desecrate the American Flag!!
    Hensel! You are a trouble maker!! And not only a trouble maker, you are a bully!! You think its okay to belittle, degrade, intimidate, ruin someones character, anytime you don’t get your way!! Then you run and hide in your brick house behind your signs and publicly funded bank of lawyers!!
    I said it before and I will say it again, you have such wonderful things to say and interject about the community of Royalton. Please! Do us all a favor and move there!! Grace them with your presence, and leave the people, and the town of Little Falls alone!!

    • Jody Scott Olson

      What does it say about a community when DEFENDING YOUR LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS is considered BULLYING? This community is so used to trampling everyone’s rights and getting away with it that is viewed as extraordinary when when the abuse of power is thwarted. What is the point of fighting for “freedom” if we can’t act as free people within the laws that govern our country? Robin Hensel may have been the catalyst and the town whipping boy but she is far from being alone voice and we’re not going anywhere. Where the violations of rights continue so will the lawsuits. Local culture, regardless of how well accepted, does not trump state and federal law.

      • Jeff

        Oh I can hear the violins playing now….Another hapless victim of the evil Little Falls community. Little Falls has served, and is serving its residents very well!! Every board member that you and the Hensel like to drag through the mud on a regular basis have done more good for this community by getting out of bed in the morning than the two of you will do in your lifetime!! This is a good and upstanding community that I am proud to be a part of!! Go fight your windmills elsewhere!!

        • Jody Scott Olson

          Serving which residents really well Jeff? YOU CAN ONLY MEAN PEOPLE LIKE
          YOU. Over 60% of the population lives under a poverty line that hasn’t
          been re-calibrated since the days of FDR. We rank in the cesspool on
          health and wellness, so I ask again, serving whom?

          And as far as
          your poor, victimized board members. Did it escape your attention that I
          took over as executive director of Morrison County United Way…the
          umbrella organization that is connect to a fleet of local non profit
          organizations? DO NOT PRESUME TO TELL ME ANYTHING ABOUT THE “GOOD
          PEOPLE” OF THIS COMMUNITY, I DIDN’T HAVE FRONT ROW TICKETS JEFF..I WAS
          TEAM CAPTAIN.

          the non profit leaders who truly are “good people” aren’t jumping to anyone’s defense.

          Its
          no accident that Morrison County ranks below the poverty line. Its no
          accident that Morrison County ranks at the bottom of the barrel for
          health and wellness.

          • Jeff

            As of 2012 the president of the United Way was earning a cool $375,000 per year!!
            Very good example of an “Umbrella Nonprofit Organization” !!
            PSSSSSHH! As I said before, Widmills are awaiting you in other towns/communities!! Adios’ Jody! This conversation has ended!! I can’t discuss issues with closed minded Hensel minions!!

  • Pancho Valdez

    The upside down flag is an international symbol of distress. There is nothing desecrating about it.
    I have used the upside down flag many times when I feel an issue puts our nation in distress. It is my flag too and no right wing moron has a monopoly on the flag of our nation!

    • Jeff

      Pancho! Ever fight or serve for the Flag? Anyone in your family ever fight for the Flag and what it stands for? Has your family or anyone in it ever been presented the Flag at a loved ones funeral that served this great land of ours? Mr. Bilharz and brave men and women like him are the reason you can hang the Flag upside down in distress? They deserve more than being called “Right Wing” morons!!!

      • Pancho Valdez

        My dad fought in WW 2 not for any flag but to stop fascism. My allegiance is not to a flag, but to the Constitution!

        • Jeff

          Thank you Poncho for the clarification! I respect that.

        • robin hensel

          Good on ya Poncho….you are correct in honoring our Constitution. Too bad Little Falls is a Constitution Free Zone! You would think EVERYONE from here and EVERYWHERE would be doing the same! Now that would be patriotic.

      • robin hensel

        Jeff….How dare you suggest that I and other commenters are anything less than patriotic. My father was in the Navy and earned 17 Bronze Battle Stars and other awards for his honorable military service. He fought in 27 World War Two navy battles including: Pearl Harbor, Wake, Midway, Marshall Island, Pago Pago, Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, Canton Island, Fiji Islands, New Guinea, New Caledonia, Guadalcanal, Bora Bora, Adak, Kwajalein, Eniwetok, Majuro, Java, Sumatra, Saipan, Tinian, Guam, Marcus Island, Iwo Jima, Chichi Jima, Ha Ha Jima and Philippines. He served on the USS Arizona, and later the destroyer USS Fanning. His last assignment was aboard the USS Missoula where he was the youngest Chief Petty Officer as Commissary Steward in the Navy at that time. He was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer just prior to discharge. He served 5900 Marines before they invaded Iwo Jima and oversaw 80 other cooks. He stated he did his best to serve the best meal possible knowing that it would be the last meal for many of the Marines. His battle station was located directly above the galley as a gunman. He paid the ultimate sacrifice losing his only brother(my uncle) who died valiantly attempting to save the airplane he was testing for the Navy. My father was also a lifetime member of the VFW and the American Legion until he passed away at age 93. My entire family has a proud military history, including two of my relatives being Top Gun in the Air Force Thunderbirds. My former husband was an Air Force pilot. My other uncle was a doctor in the Air Force, all three of my brothers served, one of them most recently in Iraq in Desert Storm, and a nephew serving even more recently in Iraq. My grandfather served in the Canadian Army after emigrating here from England, before moving to the United States. A person who serves in the military is not the only person worth venerating. Many in our nation, have served in just as noble ways without carrying a weapon. As one of my earliest signs said: Some of the bravest, don’t carry guns.” Pacifists and dissenters are just as patriotic. I have great respect for all those who serve in Veterans for Peace, Women Against Military Madness, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (the oldest women’s peace group), Creative Non-Violence and Nonviolent Peaceforce, to name just a few. A gentleman today told me it was Thomas Paine who said “The government owes a huge debt to it’s troublemakers.”

        • Jeff

          For your families service they have my utmost respect and gratitude, I am humbled and honored to hear their stories..
          But paaaaaleeeease don’t use your families long line of service and greatness to justify your petty beefs!! I would think you would want to carry on their legacy?

          • Alan Maki

            Jeff, I resent your perversion of what is service to one’s country.

            Fighting in an illegal, immoral and unconstitutional imperialist war is not my idea of service to one’s country. What kind of people go far from home to kill and mutilate others to protect Wall Street’s investments and assets?

            When my Dad returned from the front lines in the Pacific theater during World War II he came home to a country where the socialist Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party, which he supported, was under vicious governmental attack and political repression.

            He found himself blacklisted by the mining companies— the very mining companies who sold the Japanese the steel we got back at Pearl Harbor— and he couldn’t get a job in his home community, the Iron Range.

            Then he got blacklisted in the auto industry for standing up for worker’s rights and livelihoods.

            What kind of way was this to treat a veteran of the war against Hitler fascism and Japanese imperialism?

            Many other working class activists suffered a similar fate… and worse.

            Minnesota’s own Gus Hall, a veteran of World War II, spent almost ten years in Leavenworth Penitentiary just for the “crime” of expressing his socialist views.

            Veterans have been coming home from these dirty imperialist wars from Korea to Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan— their bodies mangled and their brains out of whack and they can’t even get the help they need from the very government who sent them to war. What kind of “support the troops” is this? For crying out loud, these veterans can’t even get jobs and the real shame of this government is that many of these veterans now find themselves homeless living under bridges.

            Support the troops and bring them home where they belong.

            You have a very narrow vision of what constitutes service to one’s country and respect for our flag.

            I refused to fight in that dirty imperialist war in Vietnam; I consider this service to my country in standing up against a war that was illegal, immoral and just plain wrong.

            Since when does standing up for the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights become tantamount and the equivalent of “petty beefs?”

            Everyone knows that if Robin Hensel had put up a plethora of signs advocating support for these dirty wars there never would have been a problem.

            If she would have adorned her front-yard with replicas of drones there wouldn’t have been a problem.

            Because her message is one of peace, social and economic justice— which my Dad thought he was fighting for in the mountains and jungles of the Philippines— there is this problem… and this is no “petty beef.”

            The government officials of Little Fork, egged on by the military brass out at Camp Ripley, are going goose-stepping backwards in the footprints of Joe McCarthy in carrying out these attacks against Robin Hensel.

            Don’t these public officials have something better to do with the public funds they are wasting on these prosecutions (persecution) of Robin Hensel that amount to nothing but plain old harassment? Like maybe provide some unemployed hungry and homeless veterans with food, housing and jobs?

          • Jeff

            Alan- While you resent my views, I respect yours to the tune of freedom of speech!! I understand that not all veterans were, or have been, treated fairly upon returning from something that has to be utter hell!! But, on the other hand, I have known far more that have been productive/successful, business men, laborers, farmers, etc…. but most of all, Fathers!! (my Dad being one of them!!) Strike myself and my views down as “narrow minded” and “Resentful”….. You are just another one of Hensels minions shouting down and spewing hatred upon anyone or anythig you don’t agree with.

          • Alan Maki

            If you are for “freedom of speech,” Jeff, you should organize a group of people to go down to Little Fork City Hall and tell those people to leave Robin Hensel alone.

            The only one I see “spewing hatred” is you; and you do so under the guise of defending “freedom of speech.”

            What do you or anyone else care what signs or anything else Robin Hensel puts up in her yard or in her window?

            The fact of the matter is, Robin Hensel is not under attack because of any signs but because of what those signs say.

            What if she just had up pieces of paper or boards with nothing on them, would anyone be complaining or taking her to court threatening her with fines? And like I wrote before, if her signs had messages meeting with the approval of those in power we wouldn’t even be discussing this issue here.

            Out of one side of your mouth you say you are for “freedom of speech;” out of the other side of your mouth you call Robin Hensel’s opposition to war, poverty and injustice “petty beefs.”

            The writer of the above letter intended to aggravate the attacks on Robin Hensel… he could have written about seeing a homeless person or deplorable, sub-standard housing someone is living in but he chose to write about something in someone’s window that wasn’t hurting him or anyone else… and then he twisted what he saw to mean something that it wasn’t— disrespect.

            He could have merely stopped, knocked on Robin Hensel’s door and talked to her about what he thought. But he didn’t do this. No; instead he went out of his way to malign her with the intent of a bully to encourage others to do the same.

            How many people drive down the street and then write a letter complaining about something they see in someone’s window of a private home?

            This is sheer meanness.

          • tmac

            Robin Hensel’s name was not mentioned in this letter to the editor, so I do not know how you can claim that he went out of his way to malign her.

          • Alan Maki

            Get real. The discussion here is about her. This is the way you people play these little games.

          • tmac

            What little games would those be?
            Discussion? And the discussion is about her because she chose to post that this letter was written about her.

            If Robin would not have posted that this letter was about her the discussion would not be about her. I would have not known who it was that had a flag flying upside down.

          • Alan Maki

            Let the writer of the Letter come on here and tell us who the letter was about.

          • robin hensel

            does this mean that you are not from Little Falls tmac?

          • Jeff

            Seriously Alan, you seem like a very intelligent person. But where do you get your information from? About Hensel and this sickeningly sweet drama filled fight she is in against the big bad government? I can tell from your comments that you are not from around here nor a resident of Little Falls. And you are being fed information from the main instigator(s) (Hensel). The message printed on her signs have nothing to do with what is happeneing. The problem is, and where all this started a few years back is…… Her yard looked like the county dump!! Literally!! Do you really think anyone can/could make hide nor hare out of the nonsense scribbled on cardboard that she had posted. In the first palce no one really cares what she has to say! They just want the mess cleaned up! Its looking pretty prim and proper now Hensel!! Keep up the good work:)

          • Alan Maki

            I get my information from the Morrison County Record. Are they providing some kind of misinformation? If so, feel free to set me— and the newspaper— straight.

            I happen to live in Warroad. Last I heard this is still part of Minnesota and the United States… not that people living beyond our borders shouldn’t be allowed to comment since the over-riding issue is one of democracy.

            I guess if people can comment on what is going on all around the world, this controversy is fair game for anyone, too.

            I’m still waiting for a previous post to be posted. I wonder what the hang-up is with that?

            When I drive through Little Falls, which is quite often, I see a lot of eye-sores as far as how businesses maintain their premises and I wouldn’t call the Little Fall City Council the greatest “housekeepers,” either.

            Perhaps when I am down that way you and I can take a little tour of the community and I will point out some real eyesores to you. Bring your camera along.

            But, Robin Hensel isn’t being accused of anything other than expressing her opinions… I happen to appreciate her opinions and I am glad she has the courage to stand up and fight for her right to express her opinions.

          • Jeff

            I will end this conversation now, People like you, and the Hensel, will never see or hear anyone elses views or opinions. You, and people like you, will always be stuck in the category of being victimized by the system never trying to hear or understand the other side of life……. Goodbye Alan, and thank you for your dialogue.

          • Kim Sowa

            Amen, has looked like a dump for a few years, talk about bringing your house value done and being such an eye sore. I would so dislike being a neighbor of Robin Hensel and you are such a trouble maker..

    • Jody Scott Olson

      Pancho, you’re the best!

  • Alan Maki

    There is no greater disgrace to the American flag then to fly it in support of these dirty imperialist wars this government keeps dragging us into. And, now, under the guise of flag-waving patriotism, Obama is supporting a bunch of outright Nazi-sympathizing fascists who have come to power in the Ukraine; my Dad and my uncles fought in the front lines against this very ilk in World War II. We are a Nation in distress… isn’t this when our country’s flag is supposed to be displayed upside down?

    • Jeff

      Who’s talking about flying a flag in support of the wars? It is the men and women of our armed forces that we need to support. If anyone should have a gripe about an imperialist war it is the original author of this letter to the editor Mr Bilharz, he was involved in one of the most controversial/longest wars of all times!! Yet he still defends Old Glory!! Now that earns my respect!!

up arrow