Burlington, VT – An Afghanistan war veteran said someone tore down his Trump 2020 flag while he was sleeping, lit it on fire, and tossed it onto the wooden porch of his family’s home.
His story made it all the way to the White House, and President Donald Trump’s family has offered to provide the Vermont resident with a replacement flag.
Gus Klein woke up on Sunday morning to find his flagpole lying on the ground, and noticed that his “Trump 2020: Keep America Great!” flag was missing, WCAX reported.
"I looked on the front porch and I see some cloth on the front porch,” Klein told the news outlet. “It looked like it was burned."
Klein, a Vermont National Guard veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan, said the act of vandalism left him with feelings of sadness and frustration, the Burlington Free Press reported.
“It does make me sad,” Klein told NECN as he looked at the destroyed flag. “I’m going to be 58 years old, and I’ve never seen something like this before. I’ve always lived in this area.”
“Don’t slither around in the hours of darkness,” he challenged the vandal in the Burlington Free Press. “Come out and be a man or a woman and do the right thing.”
Klein said the criminal act has also caused him to feel fearful in his own community.
"Knowing that there’s people out here who do this, there is fear in my mind and it’s not right,” he told WCAX. “I should be able to come and go as I want and we should be able to sleep at night in our own property, so there is fear.”
Klein said many people have suggested that he install security cameras around his property, but he said that wouldn’t address the heart of the issue.
“Here’s a novel idea,” he said during an interview with the Burlington Free Press. “Stay the hell off my property if you don’t belong on it.”
It wasn’t the first time Klein and his wife, Annmarie, have been targeted because of their political beliefs, the Burlington Free Press reported.
While Annmarie was campaigning for George H.W. Bush in 1992, she ended up chasing down a thief who stole one of her signs.
On another occasion, people called Klein a “racist” and “war monger” because he was wearing his President Trump hat down by Burlington’s City Hall, she said.
Despite the anonymous vandal’s attempt to silence him, Klein said his support for the President has not wavered.
“It’s not like it’s going to stop me for believing in who, campaigning for who I believe is right for the United States,” Klein said.
In fact, the veteran said he wants to increase the number of President Trump flags on his property, the Burlington Free Press reported.
On Wednesday, Eric Trump thanked Klein for his service and support, and said he would be sending him a new flag to replace the one that was burned.
“Keep up the fight!” his Twitter post read.