Ala. governor changes policy after soldier denied flag request - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Ala. governor changes policy after soldier denied flag request

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SFC Howard James Blake, Jr. preparing for patrol (Courtesy: WAFF & SFC Blake) SFC Howard James Blake, Jr. preparing for patrol (Courtesy: WAFF & SFC Blake)
SFC Howard James Blake, Jr. happy about receiving a package from home! (Courtesy: WAFF & SFC Blake) SFC Howard James Blake, Jr. happy about receiving a package from home! (Courtesy: WAFF & SFC Blake)

Gov. Robert Bentley is intervening after his aides refused to send a state flag to an Alabama soldier who wants to display it while serving in Afghanistan.

The Birmingham News reported Wednesday (http://bit.ly/nCcFA6) that the governor's office told the soldier it couldn't afford to give away flags, which cost as little as $11 on the Internet.

Bentley's office issued a statement later saying the governor didn't know about the policy, and the staff is now sending a flag to Army Sgt. 1st Class Howard J. Blake Jr.

Bentley said he is also ordering a change in policy to let service members get free state flags if they're located in combat zones.

Bentley, also a veteran said, "This is another example of a long-standing state policy that just makes no common sense. That is why I changed this policy, effective immediately. As a veteran, no one appreciates the sacrifices made by our men and women who serve in our military more than I do." 

Alabama Democratic Party Chairman and former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Mark Kennedy said he was happy with the governor's decision. "We commend the Governor for his decision to change this incredibly insensitive policy..."

Kennedy and his wife, Peggy, used the controversy to announce Alabama Flag Project, a program to help honor soldiers overseas.

"As the proud parents of a soldier currently serving our country in Afghanistan, we would like to do what we can as well to ensure every soldier who requests a flag is able to receive one," Kennedy said.

Kennedy said donations of flags and funds for postage can be sent to 

Alabama Flag Project
PO Box 5202
Montgomery 36103.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press WSFA 12 News contributed. All Rights Reserved.)

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