flag dispute keeps billy boiling
homeowners group at Windermere crosses poles with a U.S. citizen of Australian
origin who flies the Stars and Stripes, too.
Article Courtesy of St. Petersburg Times
By SUZANNAH GONZALES
Posted April 5, 2004
INVERNESS - Windermere resident Louise
Hogberg won't take down her red, white and blue flag.
"The whole point is, I shouldn't have to,"
It's Australian. It's not American - and
that's the problem, according to the Windermere Garden Villas Home Owners
In December 2003, amendments to the community's
bylaws were approved, and among them was one stating that no flag - except
for the American flag measuring 3 by 5 feet - can be displayed on the exterior
or windows of a dwelling without the written consent of the association
After surveying the community, board president
Gene Mason discovered that 61, including him, flew flags. All of them were
American except for six, including Hogberg's Australian flag. Streamers
with stars and stripes, a flag with an eagle and a Marine Corps flag were
Born and raised in Australia, Hogberg moved
to Windermere in 2001 before the flag rule was approved. She wrote a letter
to the board earlier this year requesting permission to continue flying
the Australian flag. In a March 15 letter to Mason, Hogberg described the
request as a "polite formality."
But her request was denied. At its February
meeting, which Mason did not attend, the board voted 5-1 to deny the request.
Hogberg didn't budge.
"This morning I observed that your Australian
flag continues to be displayed in front of your home after eleven days
notice," Mason wrote in a March 6 letter to the Hogbergs. "It would appear
to be obvious that you have chosen to defy the Boards ruling in this regard."
In his letter, Mason suggested legal action
at the Hogbergs' expense, and in closing, he wrote: "Again, PLEASE just
remove the flag."
"I am being discriminated against for the
first time in my life," Hogberg said in a recent interview.
Hogberg appealed the board's decision in
her March 15 letter, and like Mason, also suggested legal action. During
a meeting in the Windermere clubhouse at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, the panel will
consider Hogberg's flag again.
"We don't want this flag matter to blow
up," Mason said in an interview Friday. "It's not that big of a deal. I
hate to see it blown into that."
Hogberg said that the board approved another
resident's request to fly a U.S. Marine Corps flag, and the decision was
even announced in the community newsletter.
"Why not mine?" Hogberg said.
Both the Australian and American flags
fly outside of Hogberg's home on Balmoral Court. The American flag is higher
and on the left; the Australian hangs on the right side of the garage.
Hogberg came to the United States in the
late 1950s and lived on naval bases with her former husband all over the
country. She said she was always encouraged to fly the Australian flag.
About 1960, Hogberg was offered U.S. citizenship
before traveling overseas, but she declined. She said she wasn't ready.
In the late 1960s, Hogberg made a decision
that "was not easy, that was very difficult," and became a naturalized
U.S. citizen. She was the first in her large Australian family to do it.
She took a lot of flak.
Hogberg comes from a family of flag fliers.
Her husband, Clarence Hogberg, served in World War II as a naval aviator.
The father of her children was a Navy flight surgeon. Seven of her uncles
fought in World War II beside American troops.
"We always fly the U.S. Flag, properly
in its place of honor and the Australian flag to honor my heritage and
family," Louise Hogberg wrote in her letter of appeal to Mason.
"I should point out . . . that Australia
was a staunch ally of the USA in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf Wars.
Even as I write, Australians are serving and dying in Iraq alongside their
Hogberg's next-door neighbor, Gregorio
Rivera, has a flag up, too. It says "Proud to be an American" and has a
big eagle in the center. He bought it in Tennessee at Dolly Parton's theme
Rivera said he has not heard from the board,
but sided with Hogberg, calling the community's flag rule "unconstitutional."
"It doesn't have stars and stripes," Rivera
said of his flag, "but it's American."