A Vietnam War Veteran wants to be able to do something on his property. He simply wants to fly the American flag on a flag pole that is 25 feet tall. However, because he lives on a piece of land operated by a Home Owners’ Association, he has to deal with all the red tape associated with that – and they hate letting people like him get to show off his patriotism.
For the last two decades, Richard Oulton has yearned to put the flagpole back in front of his house. It was there originally, but in 1999 the Virginia neighborhood developer demanded her remove the flag. Why? Because his patriotism was too large and tall. The HOA only allows people to fly flags on six-foot flagpoles and Oulton’s was twenty-five feet tall.
Oulton decided to fight the HOA. Because he wanted to fly the American flag so he could honor the comrades he lost in Vietnam, the case made its way through the courts until it reached the United States Supreme Court. However, they refused to hear his case, which meant that the HOA was able to squash his first amendment right and force him to take the flag down.
“I’m standing in my front yard being told my American flag is a visual nuisance and I can’t fly it in support of the troops in Iraq. I think it’s horrible, but I have to comply,” he said in 2003 when he lost his case.
When Oulton lost the case, the HOA was controlled by the Virginia developer. But recently it changed hands to be managed by the homeowners themselves. This opened up a new opportunity for Oulton. He jumped at it. He decided to try to put the flag pole back because this time he got the support of Virginia Delegate John McGuire, former Navy SEAL to help him to do it.
“That American flag is a thing that should bring all of us together,” McGuire told CNN.
Although there was a change in management, Oulton still struggled. There were two appeals – the people in the Virginia home complex really did not want the display of patriotism. But the Vietnam veteran persevered, and eventually, he got what he wanted. The Wyndham Foundation Homeowners’ Association voted to give the veteran a 25-foot flag pole to place in his yard.
Because there was so much bad press for the foundation, they released a statement clarifying the fact that they never denied the veteran’s flying of the flag – just the size of the flag pole.
“The Wyndham Foundation has always permitted Mr. Oulton to fly the American flag. The only special approval needed was for the size and location of the flagpole in question. Mr. Oulton made the original request 18 years ago, which was managed by a developer-controlled board. The request was then denied, and no further request was submitted by Mr. Oulton until late fall 2018. The Wyndham Foundation Homeowner’s Association has since been working diligently with Mr. Oulton to come to a resolution that is the best interested of the resident and the community.”