In Denton, Texas, a small city on I-35 about 40 miles South of the Oklahoma line, local business man Andre "Frenchy" Rhealt has received several citations from the city to appear in court. His crime? Frenchy has too many American flags displayed on his business property, a lawn and tree service.
In Denton it is illegal to display more than one American flag on any property within the city limits. A city ordinance says you can display one American flag, one Texas state flag, and one miscellaneous flag at any time. You cannot display more than that without a special permit, available from the city at a cost of $90, that is good for 30 days. You can get that special permit only three times in a one year period.
Frenchy Rhealt is a Vietnam veteran and proud of his country. He currently displays 20-40 American flags on the property, along with a large flag mural on his building. Each of his trucks and vans bears a US flag as well. He has been doing this for 20 years.
"I'm patriotic all the time,” Rheault says. "They say I have too many flags? There is no such thing as having too many flags."
Since when in America did it become a criminal act or a moral outrage to display an American flag? In Webster, Texas, a city of about 10,000 residents Southeast of Houston, a man says he was ordered by his apartment manager to remove his American flag from his balcony. Duy Tran told Houston news affiliates "What really shocked me was that they said the flag was a threat to Muslims. I'm not a threat to anybody."
A spokesperson for the apartment complex said that while she admires Tran's patriotism, the flag must be removed as per complex guidelines. She read a statement from the management.
“Such guidelines maintain the aesthetics of our apartment community and provide for the safety of all residents,” the statement said. “The apartment community already proudly displays our country's flag in a safe and appropriate manner at the entrances to our community.”
In 2009, Medal of Honor winner Van T. Barfoot was told by his townhouse HOA that he could not erect a flagpole in front of his home and fly an American flag because "it would violate the neighborhood's aesthetic guidelines. Barfoot, a veteran of three wars, took that as a challenge.
He pointed out that the Homeowners' agreement did not prohibit the erection of a flagpole on his property.
His case made national news and he soon got the attention and support of many Americans and several US Representatives. The HOA eventually gave in and allowed Barfoot to fly his flag proudly.
But why is it necessary to get permission to fly the symbol of our great nation? How is the display of an American flag aesthetically displeasing? Certainly if you're in this country and you want to change it to be more like the country you left you might not like it. It might even offend you. But guess what? I don't care about your feelings. If you want to be in a place that's like your home country go back there. Do not pass Go and do not collect $200. It really is that simple.
Homeowners' associations should set standards for the display of an American flag rather than ban them. Americans one and all should be proud of the flag and be happy to see it displayed. It's time to change the absurd rules that prevent such patriotic gestures.
Van T. Barfield won his fight but has since passed away. Frenchy Rheault and Duy Tran have vowed to fight the orders to remove their flags. As they should. It's time that patriotism became popular again rather than being disavowed as threatening, radical or politically incorrect. I remember a day, not that long ago, when not showing patriotism was seen as those three things. Shameful.