In honoring the American flag, Rep. Allen West (R-FL) may have accidentally desecrated it — while taking pictures of himself doing so.
On Sunday, West took a diving trip off the coast of Deerfield Beach with a group of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. As part of that dive, West, a veteran himself, planted an American flag on an artificial reef, and then posed for a photo op.
But as the New Times pointed out, in doing so, West actually violated a federal statute stating that the flag should never touch water.
Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8 of the United States Code lists actions that “disrespect” the flag, and should therefore never be done. Subsection B of that code states that, “the flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.”
Bringing the flag underwater likely violated that statute. A lot.
West’s Communications Director, Angela Sachitano, told TPM in an email that West planted the flag underwater to honor veterans.
“Congressman West displayed the American Flag on an underwater wreck as a sign of respect for the flag and the accomplishment for these veterans who each and every day work to overcome their disability,” she wrote.
West’s website touted the trip as a “patriotic dive,” and quoted West proudly talking about bringing the flag into the ocean.
“I think it’s important wherever we are, that the flag flies,” West was quoted as saying.
Tuesday is Flag Day.
Ed. Note: This post has been updated since it was originally published.