Denali National Park draws dispute over alleged takedown of American flag

a flag
An American flag flies at Denali National Park (NPS Photo/Ken Conger)

Denali National Park and Preserve staff found themselves at the center of a dispute over the American flag on Memorial Day, after Alaska’s junior U.S. senator claimed that they had asked a construction crew in the park to remove a flag from a vehicle.

Sen. Dan Sullivan posted on Facebook Saturday about the alleged incident, calling it an “outrage” to hear of during the Memorial Day weekend. He shared a letter he had sent to National Park Service Director Charles F. Sams III about the encounter, which reportedly took place during work on a bridge at the Pretty Rocks landslide near Mile 45 of the Denali Park Road.

“One of the vehicles involved in the construction had a 3 x 5 foot American flag affixed to it while working on the project,” Sullivan wrote. “For reasons that remain unclear, someone at the National Park Service (NPS) caused the construction crew to remove the American flag from the vehicle.”

But park officials said that account of the incident was “false,” in a Sunday response on Facebook that had received more than 700 comments by Monday afternoon.

“At no time did an NPS official seek to ban the American flag from the project site or associated vehicles,” park officials wrote. “The NPS neither administers the bridge project contract, nor has the authority to enforce terms or policies related to the contract or contractors performing the work.”

The post went on to note that the flag is visible at many locations in the park, and that “we welcome its display this Memorial Day weekend and every day.”

Sullivan’s letter called on Sams to investigate what happened and issue guidance to ensure that “an incident like this does not happen again in American national parks.”

“I cannot conceive of a federal law or regulation that mandates this,” Sullivan wrote.

Chris Klint is a web producer and breaking news reporter at Alaska Public Media. Reach him at Read more about Chris here.

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