2 veterans fly American flags upside down

Men say they don't like direction country is heading

Published On: Nov 12 2012 04:10:26 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 12 2012 06:45:05 PM EST
Upside down American flags
CLAY COUNTY, Fla. -

While much of America is paying tribute to veterans, two Clay County men are making a statement with the American flag.

The Fleming Island men, who live miles apart, are flying flags at their homes upside down in protest of the direction they say the country is going.

"And these people are telling me I'm not a patriot? Who the hell are they kidding?" Jack Haggerty, one of those men, said.

Haggerty, a Marine Corps veteran who's very passionate about his views, shows that with the flag in front of his home.

"I'm flying this flag upside down because I feel this country is in distress, the worst it's been in since its inception in 1776," Haggerty said. "That's an international sign of distress. All countries use it."

A few miles away, another man, Philip Hoelzel, is making the same statement. Hoelzel served in Vietnam and the Cuban Missile Crisis in the Navy.

"We're going to go nowhere," Hoelzel said. "We're what, $14-, $16 trillion in debt. Who's going to pay for all this stuff? Nobody's doing nothing."

The choice to fly Old Glory upside down has stirred controversy. Neighbors have complained, and hundreds of people have sounded off on Facebook and Twitter. Overall, people have mixed feelings.

"I don't functionally see any difference between hanging it upside down and burning it," neighbor Ron Thompson said.

"I didn't like the thought of it upside down on Veterans Day, but other than that, he's just posing his view in a very stringent way, and a lot of people have not. So I have to respect that," said Marine Corps veteran Jerry Kane.

"I think he's representing his views and his disappointment in this country and the views that it's taken," neighbor Christie Burdine said.

Both vets say they're not being disrespectful. They say they love their country, but they're worried about its future.

"If there was another way for me to say, 'I don't like what's going on,' and to let all these people out here know that, I would do it. But I know of no other way to do it," Hoelzel said.

"I'm more patriotic than anybody you'll come across," Haggerty said.