Since You Asked: Flag idea was altruistic

    I recently saw a local news segment by one of the local TV stations about the Phoenix Police Department performing a flag retirement ceremony at the Veterans Affairs' domiciliary. My question is why did the Phoenix Police Department perform this ceremony since the domiciliary is a federal facility located outside of the area serviced by the Phoenix Police Department?

    It would seem more appropriate for a military honor guard or the domiciliary police department to have performed this ceremony since the facility is a federal facility treating former military personnel rather than a police department that doesn't even cover the facility.

    If a police department was needed to perform the ceremony, then why not the state police or the Jackson County Sheriff's Department since they cover the area where the domiciliary is located?

    — Steve B., Phoenix

    Either you need to turn up the volume or the television crew is geographically challenged, Steve.

    The flag retirement ceremony performed on Flag Day by Phoenix police was at Medford Rehabilitation and Health Care Center at Royal Avenue and Stevens Street. As Phoenix Police Chief Kurt Barthel recounts the story, three or four veterans took note of the nursing home's tattered flag on Memorial Day. They raised the issue with the center's staff. A Medford Rehabilitation physical therapist told her fiance, a Phoenix police officer, who told Barthel and the two dipped into their pockets to buy a new flag.

    "I thought there would be three or four people," Barthel says. "The next thing I know is that we show up and there are about 100 people and a (television) news crew. I didn't want to step on toes, so I picked up my cell phone and called Medford police before we did it."

    The two former servicemen folded and presented the old flag to the older veterans.

    "It was something we wanted to do for the these elderly gentlemen," Barthel says. "It just turned out to be more than we anticipated."

    Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to

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