American Flag Vandalized Outside Battle Grounds Coffee in Newburyport: ‘It's Not Right'

The vandalism hit too close to home for the coffee shop's owners -- one of whom is a former Navy SEAL.

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At Battle Grounds Coffee Co. in Newburyport, Massachusetts, Aug. 6 was a tough day. The company's American flag was vandalized, and it hit too close to home for the owners -- one of whom is a former Navy SEAL.

Salvatore and Dana DeFranco were called after employees arriving for work found the U.S. flag on the ground. It typically hangs off a pole attached to the building, proudly displayed above the coffee shop's sign.

“That day marked the anniversary of a very tragic accident in SEAL Team history. My husband being a former Navy just hit us even harder," Dana DeFranco said.

Police are investigating and say there was a string of vandalism going on at the time.

In Dana's mind, there is no question this was intentional.

"I think somebody tried with a lot of force to get it out. They couldn't and they just bent the pole back and forth until finally the pole snapped," she said.

What do you feel when you see the American flag? According to an exclusive NBCLX/YouGov poll, your response likely depends on your political leanings, geographic location, race, and age. To explore how Americans feel about the flag across generations, we visited two neighborhoods– one with almost no flags, and one that was once designated the “Most Patriotic Small Town in America.”

The question is why? Was it just a random act of vandalism or was the American flag targeted? And even if it was random vandalism, people say that doesn't change anything.

"Maybe that's true but either way the flag is sacred and no one should touch it," Angela Tambini said.

Maureen Murdock agrees.

"I think it's pretty obvious that it's an American flag so you can see what you're ripping apart," Murdock said, adding she believes it could have been targeted. "It could be, definitely, especially with what's going on in the world."

Many restaurants and breweries across the region are lining up 13 glasses of beer with American flags to represent the U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan last week.

“It's not right. It should be honored. Should be respected," said Eunice James. "I don't know what to do with the folks that did it."

Those responsible may never be caught, unfortunately. Police say there is no surveillance video of what happened, but they are continuing to investigate.

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