Courtesy of Fox News
By Joshua Rhett Miller
October 30, 2013
An elderly veteran and his wife say there’s “absolutely no
way” the flagpole outside their Indiana home is coming down, despite threats
from a homeowners association — and a local prosecutor intends to back them in
court if necessary.
|Bob and Judy Willits insist they intend
to fight multiple letters from the Fieldstone Homeowners
Association regarding the American and POW/MIA flags outside
their Greenfield home. The couple was first told in early
September that the freestanding patriotic display wasn’t welcome
since it wasn’t mounted to the home.
“We have absolutely no plans to take it down,” Judy Willits told
FoxNews.com on Tuesday. “It would be kind of a bloody situation
if we had to take the flag down at this point.”
82, of Greenfield, Ind., insists he'll fight a local homeowners
Association over the American and POW/MIA flags outside his home.
Judy Willits said her 82-year-old husband
served four years during the Korean War and now suffers from
Parkinson’s disease, as well as a lung ailment that limits his
mobility. She said they wanted to show their devotion to the
country and sense of community when they first up the flags
around July Fourth.
“He’s paid his price. He doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment. And we never
thought this would be a problem.”
“He’s paid his price,” she said. “He doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment. And
we never thought this would be a problem.”
Local authorities apparently don’t think it should be an issue, either. Hancock
County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Griffin addressed the homeowners board in an
Oct. 23 letter, saying he intends to file a lawsuit if the matter is not
resolved by Nov. 1.
“According to the board’s letter dated Oct. 18, the board takes the position
that it has authority under the ‘time, place, or manner’ provision of the
Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005,” the letter reads. “In relying
on ‘time, place, or manner,’ the board interprets its authority much too
The Flag Act, Griffin wrote, actually prevents homeowners associations from
enforcing most kinds of regulations regarding display of the American flag
unless a “substantial interest” exists.
“The association apparently assumes that it has a legally-sufficient
‘substantial interest,’” Griffin’s letter continued, noting the association has
cited outdoor maintenance as one reason it has oversight of the pole. But,
Griffin wrote, "Every homeowners association has those interests. If those
general interests were enough, the law would not require a ‘substantial
interest,’ it would simply say that homeowners associations always have the
right to regulate ‘time, place, or manner.’ But the law does not say that. The
law requires a ‘substantial interest,’ something more than the usual interests
of homeowners associations.”
Judy Willits said the real issue is the flagpole in the center of a flower bed
in the home’s front lawn.
“They want to penalize us for having the flag,” she said. “They say it’s too
hard for landscapers to mow, but it’s not in the way. Our argument is it doesn’t
Kaye Eckert, president of the homeowners board, confirmed that the flagpole is
the crux of the problem.
“We do not tell anyone they cannot fly a flag,” she told FOX 59 last week. “What
we are having a problem with is the flagpole. Flagpoles are not allowed in this
association. It’s never, ever been about the flag, which that’s what seems to
come to the foreground all the time.”
Judy Willits said her husband — whose brother, also a veteran, never returned
from Korea — shouldn’t have to fight all over again for the right to fly the
"This really hurts us," she told FoxNews.com. "And unless the courts make us
take it down, we’re not going to take it down."
Bob Willits agreed, telling FOX 59: "They can't force me to take it down."