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'Don't tread on the Atwoods!'

by MADISON HARDY
Staff Writer | August 31, 2020 1:07 AM

A Rathdrum couple said their American and Gadsden flags were cut from a 25-foot flagpole in front of their home in a senior community.

Dale and Paula Atwood have proudly flown the flags on their property for 13 years. They were shocked to find the rope cleanly cut in two places Friday morning.

The Gadsden flag, famous for its "Don't Tread on Me!" quote and rattlesnake symbol, is rooted in the Revolutionary War against Great Britain. According to Atwood, the Gadsden flag has long been a symbol of civil liberties, American patriotism, and disagreement with the government.

"I think people are just not educated about the differences of flags," Atwood said. "We had a neighbor ask why we would fly a flag that has to do with slavery, and it has nothing to do with that."

After flying the flag for several years, the Atwoods said they believe whoever cut their flag has a misconception of its meaning.

"I think somebody is trying to make a backhanded, uneducated statement," Paula Atwood said.

For the two, the flag is simply an expression of their opinion and American heritage.

"Don't step on me just because I have an opinion," Paula Atwood said. "That is part of our American rights, and when people try to shut you up for what you believe, you have to make a stand."

According to the Atwoods, their senior-living subdivision is out of the way of the general public. They were surprised someone would trespass on their property and inflict harm.

"It was a very intentional act, and it makes you feel violated," Paula Atwood said. "If it can happen to senior citizens, it can happen to anybody."

The two have reported the situation to their subdivision managers and have contacted a company to rethread their rope.

The Atwoods said they aren't trying to make a political statement; they just want to fly their flag.

"We will fly it, and if they cut it down, we will fly it," Paula Atwood said. "It's OK to have an opinion, and it's OK to not agree with another person's opinion. People need to sit up, take notice, know what you believe."