July 1, 2011 -- An embattled U.S. Army vet in Macedonia, Ohio, has won the right to fly Old Glory from his home's flagpole.
Fred Quigley, 77, who lives in the Villas at Taramina, served with honor as a U.S. Army chaplain in Korea and in Vietnam. He has had bullets nip his ear, he says, and has had enemy rockets (duds, luckily) land right at his feet.
But the kind of fire he had to endure from his local homeowner association over his right to fly his U.S. flag, he says, was unlike any he'd had to face before. "I'm in emotional distress," he said. "My eyes are watering."
Now that fight is over. The association has decided to stand down and to let Quigley run Old Glory up his pole. Its decision came in the form of a letter hand-delivered to Quigley Thursday night.
The vet's troubles started a year ago when he moved into the retirement community and erected a standard 15-foot tall flagpole from which to fly a standard U.S. flag, 3 feet by 5 feet. The pole put him at odds with association rules and with association manager Joseph Migliorini.
Migliorini said it was fine for Quigley to fly his flag, just not from a pole. To be in compliance with association rules, he said, Quigley and every other owner had to use a short stanchion attached directly to the house.
Justification? A pole creates an obstruction. "Landscapers have to work around it," Magliorini said.
Furthermore, he said, federal standards of flag etiquette require that unless the person displaying the flag takes it down at night, it must be illuminated. "That creates a need for electricity to be run out to the pole," he said.
About 60 million people across the United States live in -- and have to abide by the rules of --homeowner associations, which decree everything from what color you can paint your house to how often your trash gets picked up and where you can park your car. Owners who find the rules too constraining sometimes sue.
Minor disputes have snowballed to the point where homes are foreclosed on by associations or owners have been sent to jail for what started out as minor infractions. In North Carolina, for instance, an owner facing eviction for having built an unapproved white picket fence set fire to his home in protest and was killed in the blaze.
Quigley's attorney, Gerald Patronite, had argued that the Ohio law states categorically that is contrary to public policy to restrict the display of the U.S. flag, and that no private association can restrict such display in any way.
Migliorini had insisted that the Code of Federal Regulations was on the side of the association and gave him the authority to determine what kind of display was appropriate. Although the association drafted a lawsuit, none was ever filed.
What seems to have won they day for Quigley was an outpouring of popular support, not just from sympathetic fellow citizens but from people all around the world. His plight got worldwide coverage. He heard from supporters in London and in India. "I've gotten calls from Macedonia," the surprised retiree said. "I don't mean from Macedonia, Ohio. I mean from Macedonia."
Seventy-five supporters, including Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and veterans from a local American Legion post, came to Quigley's home to conduct a ceremonial flag-raising. Roaring Thunder, a motorcycle group that displays Old Glory, roared through to give him a thumbs-up.
Old Glory to Fly but at a Cost
Now, to celebrate Quigley's victory, the American Legion will return on July 4 at 11 a.m. to conduct a second flag-raising. "We expect quite a large turnout," Legion commander John J.C. Sullivan said. "A lady called from California who's a singer of patriotic songs. She'll be there sing."
Quigley, tired but elated, said he wants to thank all the people who expressed support. While he's happy to have received the letter from the homeowner association, he said, it came "a little late," after he'd incurred 40 or 50 hours of legal time in defending himself and his pole.
"I'm a retiree," he said, "and living on a fixed income."
To help defray his costs, his daughter, Karen Wilson, has established a fund, via her Facebook page, to which people can contribute.