HAYDEN - Richard Sciascia is a patriotic guy who knows how to treat an American Flag.
So the 33-year-old Iraq War veteran, who was medically retired due to combat injuries, couldn't stand by and do nothing when he saw Old Glory hanging upside down in distress. Especially not along Government Way, at Hayden Avenue, in the city he adopted as his home in 2009 because of its patriotism and conservative values.
"Hundreds of people saw the flag in that position all day long," Sciascia said. "We've gotten to the point where some people just turn a blind eye to things and expect other people to act and fix things."
What kind of example would his inaction set for his five children, ages 1, 3, 7, 8, 13? Also, it was Sunday on the Veterans Day weekend.
The rod connecting the flag to a light post was broken, creating a violation of flag etiquette, Sciascia said, who was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army.
With inaction not being an option he would allow himself, Sciascia was shocked to find out what happened when he decided to take matters into his own hands.
Here's what he said unfolded:
He had been driving with his children when they saw the flag upside down. He explained the proper flag etiquette to them, then predicted it would be fixed by the end of the day.
But Sunday evening, however, on the way to the gas station, it was still upside down.
So, he pulled his massive SUV, which is lifted with oversized wheels and tires, up on the curb next to the light post. He turned on his hazard lights, and got up on top of the cab. He spent the next 30 minutes working to release the flag from the broken rod.
He wasn't being sneaky, and he said he didn't interrupt traffic.
"They weren't even slowing down for me," he said.
His intent was to secure it, fold it properly, then return it to the city of Hayden at his first opportunity.
But, as he headed home, he was pulled over by a sheriff's deputy.
The patrol car's lights went on, along with a spotlight, and Sciascia pulled into a restaurant parking lot just north of Hayden Avenue on Government Way.
The first thing Sciascia said to the deputy, as he recalls, was, "Excuse me, what's this about?"
He was told someone had reported a theft of a flag. He was held up by deputies for 45 minutes, he said.
The situation ended OK.
"They were all great about it," he said.
He doesn't blame whoever called the authorities to report the flag "theft."
"They were trying to do the right thing," he said. "I was trying to do the right thing. It was quite embarrassing and humiliating."
Sciascia was diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease. He was told it was possibly the result of environmental conditions in Iraq, including burning trash. He has already had his large intestine removed and part of his small intestine.
He retired in September 2009, and moved to North Idaho. He said he chose North Idaho for its patriotism.
"That's why the circumstances were so baffling," he said.