A retired Navy veteran in Florida who decided to display his patriotism by placing an American flag on his mailbox has been vetoed by his overzealous homeowners association, which ordered him to remove the flag or face stiff fines.
Retired U.S. Navy Officer John Ackert was shocked to receive a letter from the Southwood Residential Community Association in Tallahassee advising him that he must remove any semblance of the flag from his own property, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
“This is a very, very petty thing,” Ackert said. “All I’m trying to do is display my feelings of patriotism toward America. I spent 30 years in uniform.”
The letter, dated July 26, was unequivocal: “As the holiday season has come to a close, please remove the American flag mailbox wrap. Decorations maybe displayed 30 days prior to the associated holiday and must be taken down within 15 days after the holiday.”
According to Ackert, he has already lived in the neighborhood for four years and has had the patriotic mailbox wrap in place since the first month he moved in, replacing it once after the first wrap faded.
“If somebody had complained about it four years ago, it wouldn’t be such an issue,” he said, noting that the HOA has also asked him to remove stickers endorsing the Navy, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, and the Special Olympics from his windows.
“I view this as a form of bullying to be honest,” he told WCTV, “and I think people should stand up to bullying of any form, particularly this.”
It is not clear what prompted the HOA to send the letter, but neighbors have offered their support to Ackert.
“The man’s a veteran, he served the country,” said Mike Patel. “It’s just a mailbox with a flag. I don’t think it’s right. He owns the house, he can at least have that.”