By AlaskaWatchman.com

On May 23, the Alaska Watchman broke a story, which was picked up by national media outlets across the country, about a construction worker in Denali National Park who said he and some fellow crewmen were told not to fly American flags from their trucks.

The story has generated unprecedented views and comments on the Watchman website, as well as criticism about my reporting. For these reasons, I’d like to explain how this story developed over the past week, and what I hope will occur in the days ahead.

When initially reporting the story, the crewman who contact me ask to remain anonymous because he is actively working on a project for Granite Construction – the company building a massive bridge for the Federal Highway Administration, about 43 miles into Denali Park Road.

As we first reported, the worker said the flag controversy originated from Denali Park Superintendent Brooke Merrell, who he said contacted the on-site Federal Highway Administration official overseeing the bridge project. The crewman said Merrell told the federal official that there had been “complaints” about the American flags, that they were detracting from visitors’ “park experience,” and that they should be removed from the trucks.

Before publishing the story, the Watchman reached out to Denali National Park’s media contact on May 22 to get their side of the story. We were told that Superintendent Merrell was not around, and that it was not likely she would respond to our questions before the end of the day on May 22.

After failing to receive any answers to our questions, we finally published the story on May 23, around 4 p.m., with a note that we had not received a response from park officials.

Then, on May 24, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan wrote a letter to the Director of the National Park Service in D.C., expressing his outrage about the flag controversy, and asking for a full accounting of exactly what transpired.

For four days following the publication of our initial article, the National Park Service failed to respond to our questions. We specifically wanted to know whether Park Superintendent Merrell had asked for American flags to be removed from the construction vehicles, and if so, why?

It was not until May 26, the day a peaceful truck convoy protest from Fairbanks arrived in the park with flags flying, that the National Park Service issued a one-paragraph statement on its website, claiming the following:

“Reports that a National Park Service (NPS) official ordered the removal of an American flag from a Denali bridge construction worker’s vehicle at Denali National Park are false. At no time did an NPS official seek to ban the American flag from the project site or associated vehicles. 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 American flag can be seen at various locations within Denali National Park – at park facilities and campsites, on public and private vehicles, and at employee residences – and we welcome its display this Memorial Day weekend and every day.”

While this carefully worded statement seems intended to discredit our reporting, it fails to answer any of the key questions surrounding the controversy, while contradicting the actual construction worker’s direct experience on the ground, and diverting the issue away from the construction vehicles by focusing on other flags posted at park facilities.

Following the release of the NPS statement, the Watchman reconnected with the crewman in Denali National Park for a May 26 follow-up interview.

The crewman explained that the Federal Highway Administration supervisor has overall jurisdiction over the bridge project, and that Granite Construction – and the crew they employ – falls under his oversite. Park Superintendent Merrell, however, has no say over what happens within the limited boundaries of the bridge construction site.

So far, this meshes with the NPS statement.

But then the crewman reiterated that the Federal Highway Administration official told the Granite Construction project manager that Park Superintendent Merrell wanted the flags removed from all construction trucks that were driving through the park, whenever they were outside of the confined construction area.

“He told the Granite Project Manager to convey to the hands that they have to take down their flags when they are driving on the park road,” the crewman said. “The Granite foreman told the hands who have flags that they can’t have them.”

So, the NPS statement claiming that no park officials sought to “ban the American flag from the project site or associated vehicles” is true but misleading, for it does not answer the question of whether park officials sought to have flags removed from trucks driving OUTSIDE the limited boundaries of the work site. This is the crucial point.

During the follow-up interview with the crewman, he said he spoke directly to the Federal Highway Administration official, who confirmed that Superintendent Merrell was the person who complained about the flags – claiming they were “not conducive to the park experience.”

Prior to the park opening for tour busses last week, the crewman said construction workers flew flags from their trucks without incident.

He then noted that he had contacted U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan prior to calling the Watchman, and that Sullivan staffers had spoken directly to Superintendent Merrell, before Sullivan posted his letter to the National Park Service director, expressing outrage about the flag restrictions.

As of the evening of May 26, the crewman said the Federal Highway Administration official overseeing the bridge project is still permitting bridge workers to fly flags from their trucks, so long as they stay in the work area where he has jurisdiction.

“He is allowing the workers to fly the flags for about a mile and a half, as long as they are on the project site, but he said he has no say about what happens on the rest of Denali Park Road,” the crewman explained. “Once we go over the bridge and down the road, we’re not allowed to have them.”

As to the legitimacy of the statement put out by the National Park Service, the crewman said, “There were some fallacies in it, but there were some truths, too – like when they said that they don’t dictate to us what goes on at the job site. But that’s not the issue. It’s not the issue of the job site. It’s the 40 miles [of park road].”

On May 26, the Watchman, again, emailed and left a voice message with Denali National Park’s public information officer. We are seeking answers to the following questions:

— Did anyone from the National Park Service or Denali National Park contact the Federal Highway Administration regarding concerns about American flags either at the bridge construction site, or flags being displayed from construction worker’s vehicles in the wider park area?

— If so, what was the concern or problem with construction workers flying American flags from their trucks while driving down the park road?

— Was the Federal Highway Administration official asked to have the workers remove the flags from their trucks when they were driving through the park, outside the bridge project confines?

Additionally, we spoke to the Federal Highway Administration official overseeing the bridge project, but he said government policy does not permit him to speak to the media “in any circumstance, for anything.”

We then left a voice message and email questions for the Federal Highway’s information officer in D.C.

We are on a deadline of Tuesday, May 28, at 2 p.m. This is a developing story, and we hope to have more answers and updates soon.

Click here to support Alaska Watchman reporting.

Denali National Park response to flag fiasco marked by evasion, half-truths and redirection

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


127 Comments

  • Cindy Gonzalez says:

    I think that this Sullivan woman in charge of Denali National Park should be fired, then banned from employment to any State, or Federal Government job. I find her actions disrespectful, way out of line, and overstepping her authority too!

    • Stacey says:

      The Sullivan woman you speak of is actually a man. He’s an alaskan senator.

    • Bradford Young says:

      Agree totally!

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    • tonya easbey says:

      Good god people, get your facts straight before you publicly comment, especially on something from a propaganda source such as The Alaska Watchman. You come across as simple sheep when you not only take “an anonymous source” as fact, but also can’t get even names or professional positions of the people in the story correct.

      • John J Otness says:

        go back to bed….

      • John H Slone says:

        The Watchman got the facts substantially correct but cannot guarantee that readers understand them correctly and neither can you!!

      • Prakash Chavali says:

        I agree…. promoting BS & then defending it

      • Tim says:

        says someone who uses CNN for their daily bread. give us a break Tonya and take your liberal lies somewhere else. -shrugs-

      • Mishook says:

        I agree as I know two people working on that job and this never happened. Some people just love to stir up the S.. It’s not a true journalist who speaks to someone and then does not try to get the fax of the situation. This just goes to show you that can write a column, especially with propaganda that gets people angry.

      • Jarhead_Actual says:

        Mishook – you don’t know anyone who works on that jobsite. They only propaganda is from you tryna sounds like you aren’t some flag hating liberal nut.

      • SHANE HOLT says:

        looks like you were wrong!!! time to apologize to the watchman, he was right all along, and you were 100% FALSE

    • SHANE HOLT says:

      know how to read?

    • Tim says:

      Cindy, try reading the article again. Sullivan is a male, and a Senator defending the flag, and wanting answers as to why they were told to take the flag down.

  • Rose Delya says:

    fire her immediately

  • Kimberly says:

    please get this Brooke Merrill traitor out of her job and not allow her to work at any park. Her talents could be useful at the Southern Poverty Law Center. This is America and People have bled and died for that flag.

    • Bradford Young says:

      My father fought in Korea and had PTSC fighting for our Flag! Get her out of there or any federal job-

    • Glenn Hudgins says:

      Absolutely on all accounts! Shameful and yet astonishing this women makes such a terrible judgement and hides after making it. She is way over her head!!!

    • Stacey says:

      Federal Highways is in charge of all contracted road projects in the park. Park service has no authority over the contractors, or their employees. Brooke Merrill, the superintendent of DNP has no authority over the contractor, or its employees.

      • Lela Markham says:

        Except Federal Highways reports that Merrill contacted them to tell them to instruct their contractor not to display the flag in the park. Maybe the contractor wasn’t precise enough in saying the word came down from FHWA rather than the NPS. It started at the NPS, went through FHWA, and ended up with the contractor. The source was the same and the ultimate effect was the same. And it is still a violation of the 1st amendment rights of the contractor’s employees as well as highly disrepectful of the taxpayers paying for the road. I’m not a flag-waver. For faith reasons, I don’t even salute the flag. But even I find this park administrator’s demand to remove the flag — combined with the fact that no flag was flying at the park office itself — to be disrespectful of the American people.

  • Richard A. says:

    This woman doesn’t belong to overseeing any policy in the United States. Let her do her undermining of healthy patriotism in places like California, Massachusetts, and New York, although scattered reports imply the presence of American patriots even in those God forsaken places.

  • Mike says:

    Since when does a “Park Superintendent” make rules to control federal lands or freedoms? I can understand enforcing a rule that insures safety but this is just another stunt of a liberal leftist fruitcake. Fire her and the ones that hired her.

  • Shane says:

    The reason the flags on the trucks were banned is obvious to anyone who has seen a Trump rally. They are a political statement pure and simple and don’t belong in a national park. Respect the flag and fly it properly.

    • Jody says:

      You moron, why would an American flag be assumed to be a statement for Trump? Oh yeah, because Biden is a traitor.

    • Leonard says:

      just because a group of people used the The Flag subversively doesn’t detract from the symbol of our freedom from the beginning of inception. This flag has been burned and trampled on from without and from within, with rhetoric and with violence, but it still Flys with full meaning and power because the people stand up for it and with it. Radicals come and they go, but America is America and this particular flag is much more than a statement in this country and many others

    • Howard white says:

      then the flip side of that coin is banning the flag is also a political statement. an un-American political statement.
      thank you for proving our point.
      and for your information, the flag represents the constitutional republic, not any political party. it belongs to all lawful citizens of that republic. if you imply that is the domain of Trump supporters, what does that say about the other side?!

    • Chris Erickson says:

      Another case of TDS.

    • Paul says:

      That’s your opinion, flying a american flag shows respect for those who fought and died for their country and obviously you never served!

    • Glenn Hudgins says:

      Shane what a judgmental and bias statement you make about “anyone that has seen a Trump rally knows this is a political statement and does not belong in a National Park.” Sure is a stupid statement to make. I’m Standing in National Park at USS ARIZONA AND USS MISSOURI in Hawaii and flags are everywhere. So these are all Trump people and are and wrong being here. Just maybe there are some Biden followers, you think? Would they wrong also?

    • Mike Key says:

      of course flying ANY flag is an individual or political statement DA…..flying the American Flag is a statement of pride in our country and a remembrance of the sacrifice people have paid to keep this country intact. A National Park is the perfect place to fly the American Flag…for without that flag, that park would not exist.

    • Nerka Dan says:

      What a pathetic statement and attitude. Flying the US Stars and Stripes IS a political statement of support for the USA, its constitution, and our freedoms. That’s it. And Shane if you choose to add all this other crap you stated, that is YOUR problem – the wonderful freedoms of this country allow those workers to fly the flag if they choose. NOBODY had said the flags were improperly flown NOBODY.

    • Don says:

      The American flag is now a political statement? And what do Trump rallies have to do with it?
      Quite the ignorant statement Shane, you might pull your head out and wake up.

    • Reggie Taylor says:

      “………Respect the flag and fly it properly……….”
      For your review:
      https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/4/5
      Section 7 (b)
      “……….The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or a boat. When the flag is displayed on a motorcar, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender………..”
      I think you might want to begin your own investigation on whether or not it was flown from the LEFT bumper, which would be a federal crime. It “shall” be affixed to the RIGHT wing………….

    • John says:

      Shane, this is weapons grade ignorance. Is the NPS headquarters/visitor center in Denali making a statement flying their own flag? Are the Post Offices? Fire Trucks at parades? Every Federal Building? The White House? Business etc?? I wore infrared (nighttime visible) US flag patches on my uniform on deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, but didn’t realize I was making a statement. Smoke another bowl guy then grow up and stop embarrassing yourself.

      • Lela Markham says:

        FNSB Borough Assembly member Barbara Haney took a snap of the Park flag pole on Sunday and there was no American flag flying from it. I’m going to refrain from assuming that’s a partisan statement and just suggest that it’s a philosophical statement.

    • Michael Kula says:

      Shane they are a political statement they are proud Americans working on a major project. Long Live The USA!!!!

    • John H Slone says:

      The flag is representative of the federal union of states, the park is a federal property. It is entirely appropriate for a flag representing the union of states to fly over a federal installation just as it does at a Post Office, Federal courthouse, or military installation!!

    • SHANE HOLT says:

      well, you are right about 1 thing. trump rallies are associated with american flags.the biden mob is tied to commie flags. good point

      • Stacey says:

        Federal Highways is in charge of all contracted road projects. Park service has no authority over the contractors, or their employees.

    • Brice Hitchcock says:

      Truth!!!

  • Kevin says:

    Keep at it, Joel! It is only through responsible journalism like yours that the truth will be delivered, and yes, American pride & liberty is absolutely facing subversion from within. We, the silent majority, must collectively learn and accept this sad truth if we are to rise and defeat it.

  • Leonard says:

    How can anyone tell an American not to fly an American flag in America? This cannot be just stupidity. There must be something more sinister behind this. Something like this should be looked into deeper to see if there is something else going on in our parks besides the normal activities that parks are designated for. We need all eyes open and all minds active and thinking in these days and times. Our enemies are not just around us, they are within also. Something like this should be thoroughly investigated by those who are responsible for the security and well-being of our country to see if this is a Lobo act or something else. There should never be any place in this land of the free where the free can’t fly the flag they fought and died for.

  • Colton says:

    wow this is a big nothing story. find something real to report on

    • John says:

      Most Alaskans, Americans, news agencies, and several social media platform’s users have a different opinion.

    • Mary H Rapp says:

      This is not a “big nothing story” Colton. This is just another example of how hard our present government bureaucrats are working at taking away our rights and liberties. Americans are fighting for their rights everyday, but only a few news outlets such as Alaska Watchman see the seriousness of the situation to take time to put a flashlight on what’s happening. For example, just a couple of weeks ago the Knights of Columbus initiated a lawsuit against the National Park Service to be allowed to host an annual Memorial Day Mass for our fallen military heroes inside Polar Grove National Cemetery in Petersburg, Virginia. The Knights had been doing this service since the 1960’s until the NPS decided not to provide a permit for this service. The reasons given were totally frivolous and two days after the lawsuit was filed, the NPS backed down and allowed the Knights to have their mass. I’ll finish off with this statement from President Ronald Reagan, “Freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for our children to do the same.” Thank you Alaska Watchman for your courage and insight.

    • SHANE HOLT says:

      spoken like a true commie

  • Elizabeth Henry says:

    Thank you for the update and timeline. I do still wonder if it was a misunderstanding or mistake and it is baffling why the park service can’t just give some clarification or apology and move on. I hope Granite employees are back to flying their flags again.

    • TrueIndependent says:

      Why do they need to apologize for a random person at a company making up a lie? Visitors can’t even get that far into the park where the supposed complaint was made about. This whole thing is a hoax and easily proven false if you’d take the time to think.

      • Freedom Ak says:

        “True independent “. Dear child. Please visit Alaska before you proffer such childish gibberish . The highway runs through the Park. Silly kids these days.

      • John says:

        Trueindependent: And we found the one person who don’t understand that the construction crews leave and enter the Park daily with flags on their trucks ( hood on them). The Park Superintendent don’t want visitors seeing the US Flag while workers are traveling to and from their job site. If you read the story, how can you have this lack of understanding the situation?

      • SHANE HOLT says:

        prove it

      • Marilyn says:

        A true independent would lay out proven facts instead before making an off the cuff comment.

      • Lela Markham says:

        I suspect the more likely lie was from the Parks Service administrator when she contacted FHWA to pass along this “complaint.” I suspect there was no visitor complaining. SHE doesn’t like see the flag, so SHE is the complainer. But she can’t say that, so she makes up a random visitor. I don’t know that with 100% certainty, but I’ve worked for government and my coworkers referred to the mythical public all the time.

      • Working Hand says:

        Not a lie. Visitors are bused in by the hundreds daily.
        You obviously don’t have a clue. Why does the random person at a company have to come forward and put there job on the line. A name to the whistle does not change the fact that the flag is not permitted to be flown on vehicles at this time. The NPS can put out a statement to the country that is essentially a lie, ultimately they will pay the price for such deceit. Time will tell, and when it does I’m sure you won’t be around to spout off any more ignorant comments nor admit you was wrong. Your probably still wearing a mask.

      • SHANE HOLT says:

        Looks like you were wrong!! time to apologize

    • Working Hand says:

      They are not.

  • CRAIG says:

    Shane. “Respect the flag and fly it properly?” Tell that to the Park Service monkeys. When the Fairbanks protesters arrived, the flag was not on the pole at the NPS admin office site. When asked if they could please hang it, the Parkies agreed but suddenly could not find it. How about “Respect the flag and don’t lose it on the eve of the day celebrating men and women that gave their life for this country”. Shameful.

    • Convoy attendee says:

      Nailed it

    • Late says:

      The flag at the park is flown daily, at several locations. It is raised and lowered at the beginning and end of the duty day of the person responsible for the task each day. Get the facts straight.

  • Nathan Smoot says:

    Very good reporting sir. Maybe journalism isn’t dead.

  • James says:

    This is what happens when you check the right boxes on your job application. Pride should be reserved for Patriots.

  • Patricia Baum says:

    Cover ups , deception, twisting and deflecting their statements from what really happened is standard for corporate and government bureaucrats. Time for truth telling.

  • Tamra Nygaard says:

    The park service’s statement sounds exactly like the atheists who tell us we have freedom of religion so long as we only exercise it at church. Not what the Constitution says, but their preference to not be “offended” by God’s children. So, we can only fly the flag on the jobsite, but not where anyone could be “offended” by the symbol of freedom for which our grandfathers, fathers, brothers, sisters have died. Fascism at work and paid for by our tax dollars. Got it. Way to go Miss Merrill.

    • Working Hand says:

      Interesting you can read in between the lines. At first read most would assume the NPS supports the contractors right to fly a flag where and when they see fit.
      A careful reader understand otherwise as this is truly not the case.

  • Bruce Meyers says:

    Who complained to begin with? If it is foreigners, they are welcome to leave the US Park Service park to become comfortable. If US citizens, they are also free to leave. I think the Park Manager, an US Federal employee should support honoring the US and it’s flag. If she is from radicle Portland, she is free to return to Portland and what I consider it’s leftist ways and part ways with the US employer if she chooses. In the meantime, it appears that US Park service is dancing around the issue (Lying). I thought they depended a significant amount on citizens purchasing annual memberships. Guess they don’t need my membership any longer and I imagine others will feel the same way.

  • CH says:

    Fire everyone! Overreact as fast as possible! Scream! Yell! Hold your breath!
    All of this over an anonymous claim? Man, you guys are easy pickings for Putin. You’ll buy everything without waiting on facts. GKY.

    • John says:

      Are you suggesting that an Alaskan Senator with the use of state agencies was duped too? Is the NPS damage control letter fake? Putin! lol! Guy, you have your tin foil hat on upside down.

    • Tamra Nygaard says:

      Let’s see your argument. 1. It didn’t happen. 2. It happened but it doesn’t matter. 3. Of course it happened and it’s a very good thing, you Neanderthal. 4. Shut up, he said.

    • Lela Markham says:

      Had this anonymous complaint not gone viral, the effects would have been anything but anonymous. You have to wonder how many people have been passing by that flag pole at the Denali Park office and noticed there was no American flag and wondered why. And when someone finally gets around to asking, the NPS says “Well, we stopped flying that a long time ago so what are you complaining about?” That the funders of the park — the American people — are being disrespected, that’s what they’re complaining about.
      And what facts aren’t going presented in this story? The event happened. There’s a paper (email) trail that someone will get around to FOIAing. And the NPS came out with a disingenuous half-truth justification for their behavior. What facts are being left out? The ones you are sure must exist because you personally have no problem with the NATIONAL park not allowing the NATIONAL flag on its grounds? Go over to Must Read Alaska to see a photograph that shows no flag on the Denali Park pole on Sunday around noon. Why wasn’t it there? Because someone (cough — Merrell?) — is philosophically opposed to flying it? That’s not an excuse. I’m philosophically opposed to flag worship and wouldn’t choose to fly an American flag at my home, but if it was a part of my job, I’d set aside my philosophy and do what my job requires.

  • Magnifico says:

    Knowing the Commie, corrupt trash that is the Biden Administration, Brooke Merrill will probably get promoted.

    • MK says:

      How does name calling accomplish anything? A well crafted response is compelling.

  • FreedomAK says:

    “Someone” should also look into (FOIA) how many Park Service law enforcement personnel in Denali Park (yeah I know) left/fled/ transferred to greener pastures when this leftist oligarch took the helm. Seriously. They all left because they were required to get personal permission from her to enforce the law; meaning writing summons even for minor infractions. Look into this one as well. Secrets.

  • Randy Farthing says:

    We have Flags on all of our equipment.
    It has nothing to do with Donald Trump and everything to do with being a proud American.

  • Patricia says:

    Why not report on the enormous size of the flag. Were they car flags or dealership size flags that might make it dangerous on the park road? Asking because not included in info

  • D.S. says:

    Let’s see, how many times have I been lied to by the fed gov …. lost count. How many times have I been lied to by a construction contractor … none so far.
    I’ll go with the contractor’s word before the fed gov.
    It sounds like it backfired in their faces and now they are playing damage control and willing to lie about it now.

    • Working Hand says:

      You are correct sir, although I must say I have been lied to a few times by contractors, countless time by the feds.

  • Ken says:

    That road is a corridor that existed long before it was engulfed by the park. Private businesses and mining claims have a legal right to use that road. It is a public road, not a park road. The park has attempted to usurp power over it, and they usually get away with such actions. Not this time.

  • Anch Flag person says:

    This didn’t happen and you guys are all idiots.

  • Unimpressed says:

    This is incredibly poorly written and researched. All you have is an anonymous statement from one person. The response from the NPS was decidedly thorough. They answered your questions. The person you spoke to, if they exist, was lying. There was no incident to question further.

    If you’re going to write propaganda, at least know when to quit. If you’d taken back your statement and discussed the positive aspects of the National Parks Service, perhaps people would take you seriously in your other articles.

    • Hilda van Housewife says:

      Do you think Sullivan, Allard, and other politicians would’ve made public statements and written letters denouncing the action without checking the facts?

      • Duh says:

        ….yes.

      • Working Hand says:

        Hilda Van. Your understanding of how these things work is spot on. Dan Sullivan would not spout off a scathing letter unless he confirmed the validity of the issue. I for one know for a fact that this was done. His office contacted the NPS and they confirmed they don’t want the flags flying on the vehicles on the road. They offered multiple bs reasons, none of which are grounded in regulations or law. Although not everyone knows the NPS response is deceitful, Alaska’s United States Senator undoubtedly knows the NPS response is pure deceit. My book tells me deceit is the same as a lie. So yes, Alaska NPS are liars! There is a reason there are no updated pictures of flags being flown on vehicles. Because they have been banned.

    • SHANE HOLT says:

      wrong. multiple sources confirmed the original story

    • Jeff Butler says:

      Note that this fake propaganda claim occurred on the Memorial Day weekend, thus cleverly drawing an even greater reaction from the low information easily fooled crowd of cosplay patriots.

  • WookinPaNub says:

    It’s always some frumpy white liberal control-freak C-NT.

  • Citizenkane says:

    Actually, this did happen and it is an important issue. This is an attempt at a small power grab in a series of small power grabs. How does one man eat an elephant? One small bite at a time. Every loss is a loss and every victory a victory. No matter the size. Never give an inch, never quit and never forget.

  • Ian says:

    Thank you! I read this follow up to stay balanced and educated, hearing from both sides of the argument. I wanted to give the author another chance, because the first article was so poorly written and all signs pointed to horrible journalism reporting single-source, undocumented hearsay. Instead, he just doubled down on a BS story. This is propaganda, not news. Have some integrity.

    • Lela Markham says:

      In other words, it doesn’t agree with your view of how things went down, so of course it’s BS. It couldn’t possibly have happened. But there’s an email train from Merrel to FHWA to the contractor that can be FOIA’d. What will you say if that happens? I am not calling you an idiot for believing the Parks Service. I do think you should take a breath and recognize that the US government has lied to everybody massively for years now. The contractor has no reason to make up this story. The NPS has a lot of reason to cover it up. And the fact that the Park office’s pole was devoid of a flag on Sunday at noon suggests they didn’t expect the contractor to talk with somebody about what happened. When confronted, the office couldn’t find the flag and couldn’t explain why it wasn’t flying nearly eight hours after sunrise.

  • Skip says:

    Great article, not the least because we are honoring this weekend all those who died to protect the rights of the commenters and the opinions on both sides to be freely expressed without fear of retribution.
    Also great follow up explanation. I hope you stay on the story and get to the truth of the matter. It’s sad to me that the officials involved, do not have the courage of their convictions to stand behind what they said, or apologize for a minor mistake.
    It would have been a tempest in a teapot instead of a mountain from a mole hill.
    The coverup is worse than the crime – seemingly an impossible lesson to learn.

  • Hmm says:

    My critical feedback on this article (and its predecessor) was removed. Be weary of any “news source” that sensors speech… they’re creating an echo chamber for propaganda.

    • Jeff Butler says:

      Hmm. I don’t think of watchman as a news source so much as a catalog of depth-limited stories very purposefully offered to rile up the gullible Christian nationalists. It works.

      • Tamra Nygaard says:

        Please do explain your superiority in denouncing Judeo-Christian values whilst living in the benefits of it. Please do explain how very enlightened you are ignoring 5,000 years of God-fearing people developing your civilization. And certainly make sure to convince of all this by being insulting. Recipe for success.

  • Proud Alaskan says:

    So I can’t fly the American flag on my truck driving through the park, but you can fly your
    LGBTQ-whatever flag at the White House.
    What’s wrong with this picture.

  • meow says:

    I wish folks performed jumping jacks as feverishly as they jump to conclusions. Exercise actually stimulates the brain. These comments are hilarious (or would be if I wasn’t on the same planet as the ppl making them)

  • John Q Kamerud says:

    You claim “So, the NPS statement claiming that no park officials sought to “ban the American flag from the project site or associated vehicles” is true but misleading, for it does not answer the question of whether park officials sought to have flags removed from trucks driving OUTSIDE the limited boundaries of the work site. This is the crucial point.
    However, the NPS statement: “At no time did an NPS official seek to ban the American flag from the project site or associated vehicles” is unambiguous. They did not seek to ban the flag from the vehicles, regardless of where they were. So, assuming the NPS statement is true, then there was no order to remove flags when the vehicles left the work site.
    Is it possible this whole thing was a misunderstanding? Some miscommunications between Ms Merrel, the highway construction supervisor and the contractor who reported the incident? But the story seems designed to provoke outrage among your readership. i guess you suceeded at that.

  • Real caring person says:

    It’s truly disgusting to use half truths and innuendo to stir up controversy for no reason other than to separate and divide the people of this country. You’re a monster.

  • Triggered the Flag Bearer says:

    National Park land is public land, the People’s land. The 1st Amendment guarantees our right to free speech, and that is important when someone doesn’t like what we have to say, but we are still free to express it. Just as the lunatics who think that our blood bought flag detracts from the park experience. They can become as triggered as they like, but it does not remove our right or freedom to continue to fly the flag. No superintendent, bureaucrat, honcho or HMFIC has the authority to direct or bully me or any American into stowing my flag. The blood of my friends and brothers are on that flag. Make such an order at your own peril.

  • David Shoemaker says:

    Good reporting. Keep it up. Specific and articulate. Very nice.
    I will continue to follow the story with you. We need to remove people like this, Merrell to be specific, from powerful positions. Show the we are displeased with work performance. Send the message.
    If she is doing this with the flag, the flag… then where else is she eroding the depth of our American heritage?

  • Proud to be an American! says:

    Amen Cindy Gonzalez, and I live in Virginia! However my dad is a retired USMC Colonel, Vietnam Medevac pilot, and we are a very proud American family!!

    This whole story is ludacris, shocking and confusing! He and Mom loved visiting there on a cruise and he would be shocked if he were still alive. He died of Agent Orange exposure which gave him kidney cancer, so this is very sad and unpatriotic!! to us.

  • Tony G. says:

    I think Portland wants their idiot back

  • Heath says:

    Excellent journalism on display here. If only the mainstream media and the 24-hour news network would do the same. No opinion, just reporting. Keep up the great work.

  • Frozen says:

    Joel, this is an excellent analysis. Keep up the good work.

  • Working Hand says:

    What was reported is truth. There is a reason no vehicles are flying the American flag at this time. Dan Sullivan does not fire off scathing letters without confirming the issue ahead of time. The hands don’t want to go public because Granite is a good company. They do not wish to bring unnecessary negative exposure to the contractor considering this whole mess is not their fault. Simply ask someone who is on the project, contact the union hall or call Dans office in Anchorage . The barring of the is no secret. Drive out and look for yourself. You will see no flags on vehicles period. The park service can deceive for so long before the truth becomes public knowledge. Calling the hands liars and carefully wordsmithing a response to save face with the public is both shameful and deceitful. The truth of the matter will come to full light given time.

  • Friend of Humanity says:

    Alaska Watchman is big time now! Getting hit by the spammers!

  • Friend of Humanity says:

    Spammers – a sure sign that Alaska Watchman is getting the word out around the nation!

  • Actual Alaskan Patriot says:

    The Construction workers were told they could not flay their Trump flags inside the park and in true MAGA childlike response concocted the story about not being allowed to fly US Flags from their trucks.

  • Jeff Butler says:

    “Please do explain your superiority in denouncing Judeo-Christian values whilst living in the benefits of it. Please do explain how very enlightened you are ignoring 5,000 years of God-fearing people developing your civilization. And certainly make sure to convince of all this by being insulting. Recipe for success.” – Tamra
    Well Tamra, Christianity is based on impossible claims. You believe and preach about events that cannot be true, like Noah being 900 years old. Christian nationalism is based on the belief that Christianity is the only truth and all others are either blasphemous, evil or irrelevant. Christian arrogance is based on the belief that historically, alleged Christian Superiority accounts for all the good things in the world. This arrogance is selective. No mention of other cultures, other places and eras. Your views do Christianity a disservice and are a part of why the population of Christians is diminishing. Here’s a fun insult: “Why I’m an atheist: because god sending himself to sacrifice himself to himself is a little bit much for any logical person”

    • Jack says:

      There’s a reason Christianity exploded in the 1st Century, and why thousands of early Christians chose death by crucifixion (or other horrific means) rather than renounce their faith. Please read hardcore atheist-turned-Christian Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ,” written after setting out to crush the whole Christian narrative.

      Your assertions are familiar to me, back when I was filled with intellectual conceit. However, I actually hate to say, you are insulting no one but yourself with them.

  • John B says:

    Brooke Merrill is a “Goof” !

  • turbodigits says:

    Just to confirm. . .a Granite crew member said that the Granite project manager said that a Federal Highway Administration employee said that Brooke Merrill said that the Granite crew couldn’t fly flags on their trucks? What are the names of the Granite project manager and the FHA employee? What does Granite have to say about this rumor?

    • Working Hand says:

      It doesn’t matter who my project manager is, nor does it matter the name of the FHWA guy. What matters is the NPS will not allow us to fly flags while on the park road. Pretty simple.
      The dirty disingenuous diversion tactics used by the NPS speaks volumes.Claiming the NPS did not restrict the contractor on the project is like when a child is confronted about all the cookies being gone, she claims to have never even opened the cookie jar. No one is talking about opening the jar. Just because the kid technically didn’t open the jar doesn’t mean she didn’t stick her hand in and eat every last cookie.
      Similarly the NPS public statement is diversionary in nature and serves to deflect from the crux of the matter. Which is the fact that the NPS directed the contractor to remove the American flag from their vehicles while driving on the park road. The NPS can talk about how they love and welcome all the American flags in the world, along with how they are not in charge of the contractors. No statement made by the NPS can possibly justify their actions. They can redirect and divert attention through effective word smithing, but none of that changes the fact that they told us no flags and the directive still stands.
      Many a good men have laid down their lives for Ol Glory and I for one will never accept a directive to lower her. If it costs me this job or any job in the future, so be it.

  • Embarbour says:

    https://alaskapublic.org/2024/05/30/denali-national-park-contractor-says-american-flag-was-removed-from-vehicle-after-road-noise-complaint/

    “A statement from a Granite spokesperson confirms the FHWA asked the company to remove the vehicle’s flag on May 16. It notes that one of the bridge project’s goals is to “preserve the park’s natural elements and maintain park visitors’ experience by keeping a low profile as we go about our work.”