Business

Gas station chain denies it stopped flying U.S. flag because it offended foreigners

Cars line up at the Pilot Travel Center on Statesville Avenue to take part in a gas rebate offer through New Life Fellowship Center on Sunday afternoon. Pastor John P. Kee made the offer to church members during services, were given tokens to take to the station, and church paid $1 rebate for every gallon the members purchased.
Cars line up at the Pilot Travel Center on Statesville Avenue to take part in a gas rebate offer through New Life Fellowship Center on Sunday afternoon. Pastor John P. Kee made the offer to church members during services, were given tokens to take to the station, and church paid $1 rebate for every gallon the members purchased. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Two weeks ago, a man who described himself as a trucker posted a video saying that he was done with a national chain of gas stations because one location in Texas was not flying the American flag.

He said he asked an employee why there was no flag and was told it caused "foreigners come in here complaining, and they didn't want to lose the foreigners business."

That explanation did not sit well with Dave Moore, and he shared his thoughts on the incident. His Facebook post went viral and the video was viewed more than a million times before it was removed from his page.

This is not the first time that someone has claimed that Pilot Flying J gas stations and travel centers have an issue with the American flag. But this video touched a nerve — with people angry with the national chain, and now with the chain itself.

In addition to releasing statements, Pilot Flying J responded to the rumor on social media, flatly refuting it on Facebook and Twitter.

"There have been a number of inaccurate stories making the rounds on social media that say we don’t fly the American flag. That information is absolutely false. We are proudly American — started by a Korean War veteran 60 years ago," the gas station chain which has 787 locations across the U.S. wrote on its Facebook page Saturday.

The Korean War veteran who founded Pilot Flying J is Jim Haslam II. In addition to serving on the company's board, his sons have distinguished themselves as Jimmy Haslam III owns the Cleveland Browns and Bill Haslam is the governor of Tennessee.

Part of their, and Pilot Flying J's, response on the flag issue also touches at military service. A corporate statement reported by cdllife.com said the flag can only be flown "according to military protocol."

"What many may not know is there are very specific rules and protocols to properly fly a flag; everything from how it’s raised and flown, to how it’s lit at night. Our goal is to ensure we show the flag the respect it deserves at our locations that fly the red, white and blue."

Ever wonder how to fold an American flag properly? Watch this demonstration by members of the Central Coast Leatherneck Honor Guard. Here, they're using a United States burial flag, which is a longer version of the flag that they use during memori

Part of that protocol is ensuring that the flag is flying on an appropriate pole. That was the root of the reason why there was no flag flying at full staff at the Amarillo, Texas location where Moore stopped and filmed his video. He showed the naked flagpole several times in the 2-minute clip.

"At store #436 in Amarillo,Texas, we are in the process of repairing the flag pole, which was damaged," Pilot Flying J wrote on its official Facebook account.

"Our intent is to raise the flag as soon as the pole is repaired and proper flag protocols are in place to show it the respect it deserves," Pilot Flying J tweeted.

Beyond Amarillo, the company said its locations that have a flag pole are being checked to see if they meet military requirements, or are being repaired.

But what about the explanation Moore was given? He said, but did not have video, of a Pilot Flying J clerk saying, "They said that they had an issue with foreigners come in here complaining, and they didn't want to lose the foreigners business. So they took it down."

Pilot Flying J's response?

"We regret our team member was misinformed," it shared on Facebook.

The fact checking website snopes.com reported it reached out to Pilot Flying J to confirm that it had a conversation with the 'misinformed" employee, and for the full extent of the misunderstanding. It had not received a response.

There has also been no word from Moore if the company's explanation satisfied him, or if he plans to continue his boycott. In the video Moore said he would not support a company that does not support America, save for the rare "fuel emergency or I got the scoots or something."

Response to Pilot Flying J's comments has been mixed. Some have supported the chain's business model and said this incident will not stop them from using the gas station or travel centers.

Several more have questioned the sincerity of statements made by Pilot Flying J, and continue to call it names or for a boycott, in spite of an active response by the company on social media.

The company based in Knoxville, Tenn. has 28 Pilot Flying J's located in South Carolina, and 20 in North Carolina.

PILOT FLYING J STATEMENT

We are proudly American — started by a Korean War veteran 60 years ago. Pilot Flying J shows that pride in all of our locations, whether that’s a flag outside, promoting military products in our stores, or through our many philanthropic efforts with organizations such as Bunker Labs, Fisher House Foundation, Operation Honor Guard, Special Operations Wounded Warrior, and Wreaths Across America.

Our current policy is that an American flag can only be displayed at our locations if it can be flown according to military protocol. What many may not know is there are very specific rules and protocols to properly fly a flag; everything from how it’s raised and flown, to how it’s lit at night. Our goal is to ensure we show the flag the respect it deserves at our locations that fly the red, white and blue. We are currently working to ensure that the flag poles at the locations that have a flag pole are repaired and in proper working condition to do so.

Vietnam prisoners of war discuss what the United States flag means to them.

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