Upon seeing a Burn Pit article in a November 2015 Online Update, depicting three Milwaukee police officers respectfully folding a half-burned American Flag, two feelings rose up among the members of Morton-Richardson Post 128, Richland, Ga. First was the outrage that a group of protesters outside the Republican Party debates would desecrate the flag by stomping it and then attempting to burn it. Second, there was a unanimous sense of pride that three police officers, on the scene to maintain order, would step in to retrieve and protect that wonderful banner.
Immediately, the “phone tree” went into operation, discussions were held, and – since the next general membership meeting was weeks away – the Command Group made a decision: these officers should be recognized for their action NOW. Within two days, contact was made with the Office of the Chief, Milwaukee Police Department, and Sgt. Tim Gauerke had provided the names of the three officers involved. By the next day, three American Legion Law Enforcement Certificates of Commendation were in the mail. Although separated by nearly 1,000 miles, Morton-Richardson Post 128 in tiny Richland was reaching out a firm handshake to thank officers Jedidiah Thompson, Jutiki X and Joel Rossman for their patriotism, respect and moral courage as shown that night.
Due to holiday scheduling, and the very nature of police shift-work, it was not until Feb. 10, 2016, that the officers could be brought together and the certificates could be presented. However, it was deemed sufficiently noteworthy that the presentation was conducted at a formal assembly by none other than the Chief of Police, Edward A. Flynn. MPD Media Specialist Jon Riemann captured the event in a set of 13 pictures which were forwarded back to Post 128 for inclusion in their Post Log. In addition, MPD gave assurances that when cleared as “evidence,” the subject flag will be released to a local American Legion post for proper, respectful retirement.