- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2014

Two council members in Hampden, Maine, have sparked a widespread furor — that just keeps getting wider, thanks to videotape technology — for their refusal to stand before meetings for the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag.

One of the council members, Vietnam veteran Thomas Brann, said he’s opted not to stand for the pledge since January, when it was ruled a council policy, The Blaze reported. But he said he has good reason.

Mr. Brann, who’s served on the council for 14 years, told The Blaze that he didn’t care for the reason Mayor Carol Duprey gives for reciting the pledge during brief introductory remarks at each meeting. She says the pledge is aimed at paying tribute for those Americans “currently serving in harm’s way,” Mr. Brann said.

But that’s not true, he said.

Rather, pledging to the flag is a tribute to “every single person supporting the Constitution,” not just for combat military members, Mr. Brann said. The council shouldn’t leave all the others out when they salute the flag, he said.

If she stopped saying that phrase, Mr. Brann said he would start standing for the pledge.

“For me, that would be enough,” he said, to The Blaze.

But Ms. Duprey said to The Blaze that she wasn’t even at the latest meeting in February and that the pledge was held without any introduction at all — yet Mr. Brann refused to stand. Also at that meeting, another council member refused to stand, a video of the meeting indicated.

That council member, William Shakespeare, told a local newspaper, the Bangor Daily News, that he was patriotic yet thought it “ludicrous” to make council members take the pledge.

“Honestly, I think it’s ludicrous to make councilors get up there and pledge their allegiance,” he said, at the meeting, as reported by the local newspaper. “I don’t think there’s anybody in this room who is more patriotic than I am. I don’t think there is anybody in this room who has done more military service — over 30 years — than I have. … Patriotic? Absolutely. But I don’t think the council should have to get up there and pledge allegiance.”