U.N. Flag Comes Down
After nearly 30 years of flying the flag of the United Nations next to the Flag of the United States on the Hennepin County Government Center plaza, the U.N. flag came down yesterday after the board unanimously passed a simple resolution requiring that only the flags of the United States, the State of Minnesota and the County of Hennepin would be flown on the plaza going forward. The resolution also stated that the flags will be flown in accordance with U.S. law (regarding the placement of the three flags and the fact that the U.S. Flag must be flown higher than the others).
When I first took office in 2009, a constituent sent me a note expressing disgust that the U.N. flag was being flown on the plaza (and at the same height as the U.S. Flag, no less). Frankly, I didn’t believe him – until I went down to look for myself. After a little research, I found the resolution from the 1980’s that first brought the U.N. flag to the plaza. It passed unanimously, with one abstention.
I began talking with some of my colleagues on the board about removing the U.N. flag. Although I did not speak with everyone, there did not appear to be the votes to make the change and I decided to try to work behind-the-scenes to see what could be done rather than force a losing vote. I set the issue aside for awhile as I worked on other county issues (mostly fiscal). I did tell some constituents late last year, however, that if I was unable to make any progress on the flag issue behind-the-scenes, I would bring something up publicly at some point in 2012. I never had to do that.
A few weeks ago, Bob Davis and Tom Emmer discussed this issue on their morning radio program. It raised the issue publicly and forced a discussion. The morning of that show, Mark Stenglein told me he’d be happy to co-sponsor a resolution with me to remove the U.N. flag and properly display the U.S. Flag on the plaza. Stenglein and I worked out some language for a resolution to be introduced next week in committee, but in the meantime, Commissioner Opat brought an “emergency” resolution to the board meeting yesterday which passed with little discussion.
I realize that this issue will seem trivial to some, but to many people, particularly those who have fought for this country under the U.S. Flag, it is not. We owe no allegiance to the United Nations and its flag does not belong on the plaza and certainly not flying next to Old Glory. We should give credit to Commissioner Opat and all of my colleagues for making this simple, but important, change yesterday.