Four suburban Chicago firefighters say they were suspended after refusing to remove patriotic stickers posted on their helmets and lockers.
The Maywood firefighters say they were ordered to go home for refusing to remove stickers of American flags after their fire chief implemented a ban on all stickers.
"I'm floored that he would even consider this two days before 9/11," said firefighter Dan McDowell. "It's ridiculous."
Some said the stickers were sentimental.
"My dad served here for 26 years, an ex-Marine, ex-Vietnam vet," said Dave Flowers, Jr. "I took his locker."
Flowers said he was ordered to take a sticker off his locker or he would face discipline.
"We are the first African-American father and son on the Maywood Fire Department," Flowers said. "It has sentimental value."
Don Albanese agreed to remove several stickers, including a memorial flag from his helmet, but kept an American flag on his locker.
"I said, 'You know what? The one thing I won't do is I'm not going to remove the flag on my locker,'" he said. "No one sees it but us. We're all brothers here."
The firefighters said they were shocked to hear they couldn't keep their patriotic stickers.
"You'd be hard-pressed to find a firefighter who doesn't have strong feelings about 9/11," McDowell said.
Evergito Herrera came to the U.S. from Cuba and said he's been with the department for 25 years. He said American pride is something he cherishes.
"I come from a country where I couldn't do that," he said. "The government would tell me what to do and that's why my parents took me out of Cuba."
The Maywood fire chief did not respond to NBC Chicago's request for comment Tuesday. The firefighters say they plan to meet with the chief Wednesday.