Hundreds of people were outraged over the weekend after a photo of a veteran sitting in front of Walmart in the pouring rain went viral.
In the small northeastern Pennsylvania town of Dickson, Pennsylvania, veteran Manuel Griffin, 69, sells poppies during the month of May in front of the local Walmart.
“Rain or shine, Griffin’s wife, Maryann, says he always shows up,” to raise money and awareness for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Fox News reported.
The VFW explains on its website that the “Buddy Poppy program provides compensation to the veterans who assemble the poppies, provides financial assistance in maintaining state and national veterans’ rehabilitation and service programs and partially supports the VFW National Home For Children.”
Although Griffin has sold the poppies in front of Walmart for the past 20 years, this year Walmart told him that he couldn’t sell the flowers under the covered area during bad weather.
“As it was pouring rain, he was told he couldn’t stay at the protected area and that he would have to go out in the rain and 15 feet away from the building as per the store manager,” his wife explained in a Facebook post on Friday.
“Way to go WALMART….commendable way to treat our veterans who fought for your freedom…..Disgrace,” Maryann continued in the now-deleted post.
The post immediately received attention from thousands of people were were upset and dismayed with Walmart’s apparent poor treatment of someone who served our country.
“This is a kick in the face to someone whom puts their life on the line so Walmart can resort to disgraceful acts to our military! I encourage everyone to boycott Walmart,” one Facebook user wrote, according to Fox News.
“Regardless of what he was selling or for whom, they had regularly allowed him to do so. Basic human kindness should have stepped in here. Thanks for his service, both in the past and in the present!” another added.
Someone else commented, “All American stores and restaurants are getting ridiculous with their policies. People grow up these could be our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers or grandparents that fought in the wars. They could be related to anyone of us and we allow our fellow man to degrade them like this. I’m getting more ashamed of you all.”
Dickson’s local news station WNEP said that Griffin wouldn’t talk with them on camera or give a statement.
According to his friend David Ragan, that’s reflective of the man Griffin is.
“He is going to do what he has to do for his VFW, and he wants to make sure he is representing them the same way we did when we wore the uniform,” Ragan said.
The local Walmart has since made amends with Griffin.
Although the store initially defended itself, explaining its employees were following safety protocol, they said Walmart will offer a canopy for veterans from now on.
Griffin’s wife Maryann posted again on Facebook on Saturday, thanking everyone for their outpouring of support.
“Thank you for the overwhelming support to our veterans and the disrespect shown at a local Walmart,” she wrote.
“My husband will be at this sight again today from 8 to noon …stop by to say hello! Thank you again for your wonderful response and support!”
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