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South Carolina State Treasurer’s response to Bank of America flag controversy

September 24, 2009

For Immediate Release: September 24, 2009

Contact: Scott Malyerck (803) 734-2665

(Columbia, SC)…Recently a Bank of America branch in Gaffney, South Carolina removed from a sidewalk American Flags that had been placed there by a private citizen in honor of a fallen American Soldier. The bank was on the route of the soldier’s funeral procession and citizens were marking the route to honor the soldier. They later replaced the flags.

Treasurer Chellis’ statement:

“The decision to remove the American Flags by the bank was a poor one. I respect the American Flag as a symbol of our country and all that it stands for. I respect the men and women who fight under the Flag. And I respect the soldiers who gave the last true measure of devotion to protect and defend it.

Our soldiers are fighting to protect the American way of life, and a company with the word America in its name ought to be especially sensitive to the idea of liberty and patriotism.

Even though this may seem like a small issue, it’s extremely important to me. My father served in the U.S. Army during WWII and I served in the U.S. Air Force. I respect the American Flag and all that it symbolizes.

A moment that really impacted me occurred a couple of years ago at memorial dedicated at The Citadel. It was placed there in honor of two graduates who lost their lives in Vietnam. They were my best friends and teammates on the Citadel football team. Their lives were cut short and they never got to experience all the joys that life offers. We must not forget that freedom is never free.

My heart goes out to the family of Marine Lance Cpl. Chris Fowlkes and I hope the bank’s actions do not in any way reflect negatively on the proud and patriotic citizens of Gaffney or the State of South Carolina.

As State Treasurer, I deal with scores of banks and billions of dollars. Although I briefly felt the inclination to pull the over $125 million in cash our office has on deposit in the bank, I knew that the bank had realized its actions were inappropriate and correct the mistake.

Some say that patriotism is on the wane and that we are a country in decline. I disagree. Wherever there is an American Flag, there is hope. God bless the soldiers who have died to protect freedom. God Bless our troops currently in harms way. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.”

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