Flying a Wounded Warrior Project has one patriotic Palm Coast, Florida resident in trouble with his homeowner association. Grand Have gated community residents can fly Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, sports team flags, and the stars and stripes, but flying a piece of cloth which heralds wounded veterans will get them fined $100 per day.
The Grand Haven gated community recently issued a fine notice to 13-year resident Thomas Bagnoli for flying a Wounded Warrior Project flag in his backyard, according to WJXT in Jacksonville. Despite official removal warning, Bagnoli has no plans to remove the flag.”They can do whatever they want. I’m doing what I want. I feel strongly about this,” The Grand Haven homeowner said.
Exactly why the Palm Coast gated community finds the Wounded Warrior flag so offensive remains unknown. The non-profit project seeks to raise awareness and garner aid from the public for injured veterans. The group also encourages those wounded either physically or mentally in service of our country to support one another and offers to help the veterans meet their needs upon returning home.
Thomas Bagnoli had this to say about the Wounded Warrior flag controversy:
I wanted to stand up for something, which I thought was important, not only to me, but all these kids, men and women fighting over there. … I’ve gotten notices from people saying keep up the good work, don’t back down and stuff like that,” he said. “And I won’t. I feel it’s necessary.
Bagnoli had proudly displayed the flag in his backyard for about a year, and it flew just beneath his American flag. If any of his neighbors were offended by the flag, they have not voiced their opinions. The patriotic Florida man has actually received quite a bit of encouragement from other folks in his community. One individual even offered to cover the fines as long as Bagnoli opted to keep the flag flying.
The Palm Coast homeowner has vowed to keep the flag in its spot until the war in Afghanistan ends, and is willing to suffer through a homeowners association lien if necessary. He said that if he ever decides to sell, the gated community governing group can keep the lien money, because he is keeping his flag. It is not known if any of the ardent supporters have purchased their own Wounded Warrior flags to display.
Florida state law which appears to address the flag flying issue reads:
Any homeowner may display one portable, removable United States flag or official flag of the State of Florida in a respectful manner, and one portable, removable official flag, in a respectful manner, not larger than 4 1/2 feet by 6 feet, which represents the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, or a POW-MIA flag, regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of the association. Any homeowner may erect a freestanding flagpole no more than 20 feet high on any portion of the homeowner’s real property, regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of the association, if the flagpole does not obstruct sightlines at intersections and is not erected within or upon an easement.
The Grand Haven gated community HOA officials have refused to comment on the Wounded Warriors flag battle. Potential homeowners are routinely given a copy of all rules as a part of the property purchase process. According to Bagnoli, nothing in the rules alerted him to a potential flag violation. If enough residents in the Florida gated community speak out on Bagnoli’s behalf at the next HOA meeting, perhaps the $100-per-day fine threat will be thwarted.