Yesterday, which was ironically “Flag Day” across the country, US Congressman Allen West (R-FL) was criticized for scuba diving with a US flag over the weekend. West had joined a group of military veterans and local divers to celebrate Learn to Dive Month in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The Republican Congressman, a certified diver, was one of several dozen divers to descend on the wreck of the Ancient Mariner near Deerfield Beach. During the dive, the group unfolded an American Flag and took turns posing for pictures.
West took heat from a group of bloggers who pointed out the divers were technically “in violation” of the US Flag code which states, (b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise
Given the current scandals in Washington, DC, one might think skeptics could find something better to focus their attention on. West, in his first term in office, talked about the importance of flying the flag following the event. “I think it’s important wherever we are, that the flag flies,” said the 22-year veteran Army officer who is also a Master Scuba Diver. “It’s still America down there.”
Tuesday afternoon, the congressman’s office issued a statement, saying he participated in the event or bring attention to scuba diving near his district, and calling West’s actions “sign of respect for the flag.”
“He went diving with several disabled veterans who fought to defend the American Flag and this nation,” said West’s communications director, Angela Sachitano.
Controversy or not, the event was a major success. There were 33 people on the boat Aqua View with Jeff Torode and his crew from South Florida Diving Headquarters, who took the veterans for free. With calm waters and good visibility, everyone enjoyed great diving.
West told the Sun-Sentinel newspaper that he tries to dive “if not every month, then every other month,” either locally or in the Keys. Certified in scuba while in college, West got re-certified and then got his master diver certification after he retired and moved to Plantation. “Diving is a great opportunity to connect with constituents,” West said, “and find out what their issues are.” It’s unlikely that any of West’s constituents would have a problem with the Congressman honoring his brother soldiers by proudly displaying the American Flag during a dive, but stranger things have happened.
The “soiled” flag is scheduled to be auctioned for charity, with the proceeds slated for the Diveheart Organization, which deals with teaching soldiers and others with disabilities how to scuba dive. Current bid on the flag is $500 and the auction runs through June 25. For more information, contact Force E at 866-307-3483 or visit Force-E.com
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