By Chuck Woodbury
How patriotic are you? Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Camping World and the Good Sam Club is very patriotic. At least that’s what he wants you to think.
As you may know by now, for the last year he has flown a huge American flag over his Gander Outdoors store in Statesville, North Carolina. It was so big it violated a local size ordinance. The permitted size was 25 feet by 40 feet. Lemonis’ flag was 40 feet by 80 feet. Lemonis cited his patriotism in continuing to fly the giant flag. “I’ll go to jail before I’ll take it down,” he said to television reporters who covered the story from near and far. He came across as a good guy, a super patriot.
Veterans rallied, demanding the local city council allow him to fly the flag. Last week they caved. Lemonis paid a fine of $14,350 plus $2,000 in court costs and his flag still flies.
Here’s what I think
I think it was one big publicity stunt. Lemonis flies the same big flag at all his stores around the country, and to my knowledge all legally. I know that several times on my road trips I have seen a huge American flag ahead. “Ah, Camping World,” I think. And usually I am right.
So, a question for you: does the size of the flag someone flies determine the degree of his or her patriotism? Could Lemonis have flown a slightly smaller flag, one that was legal, to show his patriotism? Can one be patriotic and not fly a flag at all?
I believe most people who fly an American flag are patriotic and I don’t doubt that Lemonis is, too. But I do not believe that if someone’s flag is bigger than another’s flag then it should be assumed the one with the bigger flag is more patriotic.
The veterans in Statesville were angry with the local city council for denying Lemonis his illegal flag. They are, rightly so, proud of the flag of the country they served to protect.
But keep in mind, the city was only asking to Lemonis to limit the size of his flag like any other citizen. Lemonis could have flown the slightly smaller American flag and played by the rules. Of course, that would provide zero national publicity instead of a whole bunch.
So here’s a question for you: if a law-abiding store up the road from Lemonis’ Gander Outdoors flies a smaller flag, does that mean its owner is less patriotic than Lemonis?
You tell me (and I’m sure you will). And to those of you who read into this that I am somehow bashing veterans, be assured that I hold each and every one of them in the highest regard.