The FedEx guy who ignited, as it were, the Internet when he stopped protesters from burning the American Flag has commented publicly about the incident for the first time.
As many suspected when the footage originally went viral, FedEx driver Matt Uhrin is indeed a veteran, having served eight years in the U.S Army.
Uhrin, who became quickly known on Twitter as the FedEx guy, told ABC Cedar Rapids affiliate KCRG-TV9 that he would act in the same way again in a heartbeat and also dismissed any hero status.
The incident, which was captured on video by a local journalist, occurred last Thursday in Iowa City, Iowa, and then uploaded to social media, where it caused a national sensation.
The one-and-a-half minute video starts when the deliveryman, armed with a fire extinguisher, has evidently already saved one flag from the flames, and then wades back into the group to save Old Glory a second time with the fire extinguisher.
A brief scuffle occurs, and one of the demonstrators tries to reclaim the first flag and appears to get a face full of the fire-squelching stream in the process.
On Saturday, FedEx announced in a tweet that Matt Uhrin would face no disciplinary action and that he is still an employee of the national package delivery company.
CBS Des Moines affiliate KCCI reported that the demonstrators insisted they are not anti-veteran but had assembled to protest various aspects of the Republican agenda. They were also apparently demonstrating against the Dakota Pipeline in the encounter that occurred at Iowa City’s Old Capitol Mall.
Two of the protesters were arrested for allegedly violating the city’s public burn ordinance, which requires individuals to first obtain a permit to burn a flag.
FedEx guy Matt Uhrin provided this insight to KCRG reporter Samantha Myers, to whom he told that he responded to the flag burning by instinct because of his military background, He also talked about who he considered the real heroes.
“I don’t feel like I deserve the praise; I never wanted it–it’s humbling, you know, it just–it is… It really hurts when you see [the flag] disgraced, and I think that’s why everyone loves it the way that they do and that’s why I love it…Each person has their own reasons why they signed the dotted line. The ones that are really the heroes are the ones that were injured, maimed, killed, the ones that never got to see home again. They’re the heroes…”
Matt also modestly explained that he’s not on Twitter and that he prefers any gifts to be directed to a worthy cause rather than in his direction.
“I’m not going to be out there asking people for stuff; if you want to buy me a meal, If you want to buy me a beer, if you want to send me gift cards or something, I would rather you guys take that money, and there’s a plethora list of veteran charities that are so in need of money.”
Under a 1989 Supreme Court decision, flag burning is considered a form of freedom of speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“Iowa has a law on the books that makes it illegal to defile, cast contempt upon, satirize or deride a flag. That law, however, was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in December 2014 and state prosecutors were told not to enforce it,” the Iowa City Press-Citizen recalled.
A change.org petition has been launched recommending that President Trump invite the FedEx guy to the White House, although at this writing it has only 62 signatures. “For standing up to an anti-American crowd ‘FedEx Guy’ deserves recognition a true patriot should get for protecting his country, in and out of uniform,” the petition reads.
[Featured Image by Jae C. Hong/AP Images]