Wounded Warriors flag should be allowed in Grand Haven backyard
Being a new arrival to Palm Coast and just trying to get my bearings straight regarding the various neighborhoods, I read with interest the Jan. 23 Palm Coast Observer article about the Grand Haven homeowner who was fined $1,000 for flying a Wounded Warriors flag in his backyard.
Being a veteran of Vietnam, I know how soldiers, sailors and Marines were treated upon their return, not just from the general population but the VA hospitals. Today we are lucky to have organizations like Wounded Warriors. My respect and gratitude go out to people such as Tom Bagnoli. Think about it: If the VA hospitals were doing such a great job, there wouldn’t be a need for Wounded Warriors.
I would ask all of the Grand Haven Masters Association members one question: Do any of you who voted no to Tom Bagnoli's flag have sons, daughters or grandchildren in need of the services that Wounded Warriors provide? I must assume you don’t. It's not like we're asking you to live in an ungated community!
What happened to American pride in this gated community?
For several years now, I have flown the black POW-MIA flag under the American flag on my property on the eighth fairway of the Cypress Course with honor and respect for our servicemen and women. If asked to remove it, my reaction would be the same as Mr. Tom Bagnoli.
I would love to have the opportunity to poll the Grand Haven's Architectural Design Committee in order to find out how many of its members have served their country in the military. Whatever happened to American pride in this gated community for a country that has provided so much for their safety and well being?
Should Mr. Bagnoli be forced to pay a fine, I'll be only too happy to contribute and ask my friends to do likewise.
What message does this send to our wounded warriors?
There is absolutely no logical, legal, sane reason why the Grand Haven Master (author’s emphasis) Association should prohibit and fine a resident for flying a Wounded Warrior flag. The city of Palm Coast has no such code and since Grand Haven is in Palm Coast, it should be following the same code. The association and Architectural Design Committee (architectural design? What has that to do with flying flags in your own yard — back or front?) are, in my opinion, totally out of line.
And placing a lien on Tom Bagnoli’s home if he doesn’t pay the fine?! Isn’t it Mr. Bagnoli’s constitutional right to fly the flag? Will this become an issue for the ACLU?
Also, I wonder how many of the master association members and residents of the Grand Haven community used to drive their vehicles with yellow magnetic ribbons declaring “SUPPORT OUR TROOPS.” I haven’t seen them in a long time and I wonder why I see one only occasionally in Palm Coast. What happens to these men and women when they return home to almost none of those patriotic declarations and little or no support for their invisible war wounds? Do we drop them like a hot potato because it’s a little uncomfortable to deal with the damage? It’s easier on our conscience to see sports team flags waving — what a terrific escape from reality.
According to a Time story Jan. 10, titled Report: Suicide Rate Soars Among Young Vets, “the number of male veterans under 30 ending their own lives jumps by 44 percent in two years.” And, “The number of male veterans under the age of 30 who commit suicide jumped by 44 percent between 2009 and 2011, the most recent year for which data was available, according to numbers released Thursday by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Roughly two young veterans a day commit suicide. Suicide rates for female vets also increased by 11 percent between 2009 and 2011. The suicide rate among veterans remains well above that for the general population, with roughly 22 former servicemen and women committing suicide every day.”
Those who have not totally surrendered to their trauma are reminded on a daily basis of the pain and anguish of their service. Show some respect and compassion — let them fly the flags. Who is it hurting? What damage is it doing? Why should the “masters” (I shudder at the connotation) be so offended by the reminder of what we have done to our veterans? POW-MIA flags are allowed. What’s the difference in their minds? I don’t know the reason, but I sure would like to hear their argument for prohibiting and fining Mr. Bagnoli for flying his Wounded Warrior flag in his backyard. I’d like to hear a sound, reasonable explanation — not a logically faulty “Because it’s the rule.”