Irish flag replaces American flag? Some eyes aren't smiling - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Irish flag replaces American flag? Some eyes aren't smiling

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The Irish flag as it looked on top of the Black's Building Friday afternoon. The Irish flag as it looked on top of the Black's Building Friday afternoon.
WATERLOO (KWWL) -

With the annual Iowa Irish Fest about to kick off in downtown Waterloo, one business owner's decision to replace a prominently-displayed American flag with a more festival-appropriate one doesn't appear have the luck of the Irish on her side.

On Friday morning, owners of the Black's Building, one of the tallest in Waterloo, replaced their large red, white and blue flag on the roof with a green, white and orange one -- and that turned more than a few people red in the face.

Representatives from VFW Sullivan Brothers Post #1623 out of Waterloo told KWWL that it was "disrespectful" the Black's Building would remove the American flag and replace it with the Irish flag.

Donna Nelson with the Black's Building told KWWL she didn't believe replacing the American flag with the Irish flag for the weekend would upset so many people.

Their original thought was that they could fly the Irish flag underneath the American flag without outright replacing it, but since that violated "flag rules" and the Black's Building only has one flagpole on the roof, they decided to replace it instead.

"We meant no harm when we decided to honor James Black's heritage and join the festivities for these three days," the Nelson family said in a written statement. "I do hope we can be generous when people are working so hard to bring music, fellowship and fun to our community."

Iowa Irish Fest begins Friday and runs through Sunday in downtown Waterloo.

Read the Nelson family's full, unedited statement below:

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The actual flag rules, state that the flag of another country cannot fly on the same pole as the United States flag. The BLACK'S Building only has one pole. We meant no harm when we decided to honor James Black's heritage and join the festivities for these three days.

The United States people are generous and kind and welcoming........please refer to the Statue of Liberty "give me your tired, your poor, etc......I do not think our Forefathers would take offense at a salute to a nation that gave us these wonderful immigrants who helped build our community and defended this wonderful country with the ultimate sacrifice.

I do hope we can be generous when people are working so hard to bring music, fellowship and fun to our community.

We want to state that we are very patriotic and fly the United States flag proudly everyday and have done so for years.

The United States is a melting pot and many Irish besides Mr. Black settled in Waterloo......many working for the railroad such as the Five Sullivan family.

We were under the same impression that we could fly a smaller flag under our larger United States flag but found that we were wrong.

We would love to put up another smaller flag pole to salute the Irish but we are talking a minimum of 20,000 to 40000.00 dollars. The United States flags we fly now cost us around 600.00 each. Some last a few days and at the most a couple of months. One of these days we hope we can afford the second pole and also, poles for our other buildings downtown. To fly the United States flag.

Thank you for your understanding!
The Nelson Family



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