Sunday, May 30, 2004
Every morning since 9/11, Donald Lamp has hung his American flag from the balcony of his Omaha apartment.
The Omaha retirement community where Donald Lamp lives wants him to take his flag down. He refuses, having flown it since the Sept. 11 attacks. Lamp's son-in-law is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Management of the retirement community where he and his wife live - citing policy about maintaining the appearance of the building's exterior - wants him to lower the flag for good.
"I'm not about to take it down," the 89-year-old World War II veteran said.
Lamp is like many Americans who, because of housing covenants, are discouraged from flying their flags this Memorial Day weekend.
This is not a story about patriotism, or the display of the flag. The homeowners association in question flies American flags on poles in various locations, all according to rules established by the association. This is a story about the obsession that small-minded people seem to have with neatness and conformity in their surroundings. When and why did we become so unwilling to let people express themselves on their own property, lest it disturb the mind-numbing sameness of contemporary suburban life? Of what value are our rights in property if we cannot express ourselves on our property, whether in the color of the paint we use, the flora we plant, the buildings we erect, or the flags we display?
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