Patriotism: Standing tall

What others say

Posted: Friday, October 03, 2003

One of many cases that should not be in the courts is the lawsuit between a former Marine and a homeowner's association over display of the flag.

Thousands are enraged because the homeowner was not allowed to display an American flag on a flagpole.

He lost his case. Because he was unable to pay the legal bills the suit cost the association, he was in jeopardy of having to sell his home to pay them.

But, last week a judge put the foreclosure on hold.

Many have taken the stance that, by living in the neighborhood, the Marine implicitly agreed to abide by its rules and that he is just being an irascible old coot.

On the other hand, according to his attorney, there is no rule that says he cannot fly a flag on a flagpole. He also said that his client inquired beforehand and was given verbal permission by the association's board to fly his flag.

Gov. Jeb Bush gave the homeowner a flag that had flown over the state Capitol and helped him raise it on the pole amid applause from a crowd.

His sensible take on the situation was, "Rather than just say it's unacceptable, people ought to put aside their differences and their obsession with rules and regulations and use common sense to make decisions."

The Legislature even wrote a law saying that homeowners have a right to fly a flag under reasonable circumstances.

The association should have been able to work out something, as Bush suggested.

Mediation is a way of keeping such cases out of the clogged courts. This was a perfect candidate for mediation.

As it stands, the Marine has won an injunction and hopes to win his appeal of the foreclosure and force the association to pay his fees.

Good luck, sergeant, and semper fi.

Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville - Sept. 30

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