Vietnam Veteran Wins Court Case Against HOA Over Flying American Flag

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
March 18, 2019US News
Vietnam Veteran Wins Court Case Against HOA Over Flying American Flag
American flags flying in a file photo. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)

A Vietnam veteran who was ordered by a Virginia Homeowners Association (HOA) to take down a flagpole and an American flag recently heard that he can put the flagpole and flag back up.

Richard Oulton was taken to court by the Wyndham Homeowners Association in 1999 over the flag, with the HOA claiming it violated neighborhood bylaws.

The court agreed and Oulton was ordered to take it down in 2003.

“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,” Oulton said at the time, reported WRIC.

Now Oulton has a flagpole back up. The Marine veteran said he wanted to fly the flag in honor of the Marines he served with in the 1st Battalion 9th Marines, which due to a high casualty rate became known as “The Walking Dead.”

“The memories are always there. Unfortunately, they’re deep inside me and I can’t clear them out,” Oulton told WRIC.

Virginia House Delegate John McGuire, a former Navy Seal, helped Oulton in his battle to fly the flag.

“The one thing that unites us in this country is that American flag,” said McGuire, “And when I heard about that I was like we got to get that American flag up.”

The HOA was under the control of the developer in 1999 but it has since come under the control of the homeowners.

After two appeals, the HOA granted Oulton permission to erect a flagpole and fly the flag. A flag-raising ceremony is slated for April 27.

“Our men and women in uniform oftentimes risk their life or even sacrifice their life for freedom and I think the least we can do is get a flag pole up so he can remember his brothers,” McGuire said.

American Flag Facts

Many people enjoy flying the American flag or seeing it flown but some don’t know some interesting facts about the flag.

The flag started with 13 stars in 1777 and gradually expanded over the years before arriving at the current 50 stars on July 4, 1960, according to the Smithsonian Institution.

Flags could look somewhat different for many years until an executive order in June 1912 mandated the order of the stars and proportions of the flag.

A skydiver with the American flag
A skydiver flies with the American flag prior to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series JAG Metals 350 at Texas Motor Speedway, on Nov. 2, 2018, in Fort Worth, Texas. (Josh Hedges/Getty Images)

“Consequently, flags dating before this period sometimes show unusual arrangements of the stars and odd proportions, these features being left to the discretion of the flag maker. In general, however, straight rows of stars and proportions similar to those later adopted officially were used,” the Smithsonian stated.

A series of executive orders and resolutions, including that one, gradually shaped the flag’s design. The last two were from President Dwight Eisenhower in 1959.

The final one provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows staggered horizontally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.

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