TRENTON, NJ – Last week, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which falls under the umbrella of the Phil Murphy administration banned the practice of securing American flags over highway overpasses. The practice began back during Operation Desert Storm in 1990, but was revitalized in 2001 after Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda backed terrorist organization attacked New York City and Washington, DC.
Thousands died during those attacks and countless thousands more have died in the years since. Soldiers, sailors and Marines have died in the nearly 20 years of warfare that have followed. Ground zero residents, firefighters and police have slowly been dying since the attack from airborne contaminant related illnesses.
The flags were installed after 9/11 as a show of patriotism against the cowardly attack against Americans in 2001.
The NJTPA not only took down the flags, but the agency also began to install signs warning that placing an American flag on an overpass is a crime in New Jersey.
The battle heated up in Woodbridge where hundreds of protesters stood up to the NJTPA this past weekend to show their support for the flags. In Robbinsville, the Robbinsville Police Department began replacing torn and tattered flags over Interstate 195 and the New Jersey Turnpike. Many of those flags have been in place since 9/11.
On Tuesday, Governor Murphy himself came to the defense of the American flag, at least for now.
“The Turnpike Authority was raised in an interview I did this morning. I didn’t like what I heard,” Murphy said. “You know, we are the greatest nation on Earth even though we’re far from perfect, and our flag represents that nation.”
Murphy said he asked that the NJTPA cancel its ongoing effort to remove the American flags and replace them with warning signs. Murphy signaled that he may eventually lean towards the NJTPA decision that claims the flags are a road hazard, distracting drivers.
“After I got off the call, we spoke to the team and at least for the time being, the Turnpike Authority has suspended doing that until we find a good way forward,” Murphy added. “As I mentioned in the interview this morning, if there’s some safety or distraction element from some other type of signage, which I suspect what this is, not our American flag but some other signage, I want to make sure that I’m not promulgating something that’s unsafe.”
For now, the flags may stay, but Murphy eluded to plans being in the works to replace them with something else.
“But I think we should be proud of our flag at every step, again, even though we have a long way to go to perfect our union. I stand with the flag. They’ve suspended that for the time being, until we can find a good way forward,” Murphy said.