From the cobbled roads of Afghanistan to the streets of Lansford, Tamaqua and Coaldale, it's been a rough few months materially for the American flag.

Earlier this month, members of the AMVETS Post 83 in Lansford reported that they would take down all the American flags from the Ridge Street parking meters because of the recent storm damage. Members said they were unable to keep the flags until they received desperately needed donations and support from the community to purchase new ones.

Coaldale's American Flag Committee was in much the same dilemma. Most of the flag brackets or poles were destroyed in recent storms and members are seeking community donations to buy better quality replacement flags and poles.

Flags being damaged by natural acts such as storms is understandable but when a human element is factored in, the event is downright disgraceful. That happened last weekend when someone tossed two banners into the Little Schuylkill River. Tamaqua American Legion member arrived to remove the colors.

We look with disgust when we see extremists in other countries desecrate the symbol of our freedom, which so many have died for fighting for in this nation. Earlier this year, when five U.S. service members burned a pile of Korans the Muslim holy book in Afghanistan, the deed incited a week of deadly protests.

Crowds of Afghan protesters ignored a U.S. apology, instead taking to the streets and burning the American flag. This is in a country where American troops have died, trying to protect innocent civilians while attempting to usher in some semblance of a stability to a shattered government.

After the flags were found floating in the Little Schuylkill River earlier this week, American Legion commander Joel Perry said the act of flag desecration was a disgrace to the town, and especially to those veterans who served and are still serving. Hopefully, we will see the dispicable action result in the arrest and conviction of the culprits. A $1,776 reward is being offered by The Legion, Tamaqua Crime Watch and Tamaqua Volunteers group.

Those who disrespect the flag Americans included should feel a cloak of shame, especially after realizing that it is the symbol for the freedom giving them the right to protest in the first place.

It's ugly enough when we see a flag being burned in a place like Afghanistan, but our anger is certainly justified when it occurs here on our home front.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com