Tyler Barge, a veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, was ordered to remove a tiny U.S. flag from the porch of his Salem, Va. apartment, The Blaze reported Thursday.
“I like to keep a flag on display in honor of those who have died fighting for our freedom,” the 22-year-old Barge said. “I had the privilege of coming home and they didn’t. I try to do what I can to keep their memory alive.”
Barge received a complaint letter from the management of Riverwalk Apartments earlier this week demanding he remove the tiny flag that was stuck in a flower pot, along with a broom, a glass table and what Jason Howerton described as "trash items."
“We need your help to keep our community one of the best in Salem! We need for you to remove the following items from your patio,” the letter said, giving Barge until Monday to remove the items.
According to the letter, apartment residents are allowed to have patio furniture, plants and as many as three working bicycles.
Barge told The Blaze he knew his lease prohibited him from flying a flag, so he opted to place a small flag in a tiny pot of dirt.
“Being a veteran and growing up with good patriotic parents, I’ve always had a flag out,” he said. “I didn’t think anything of it.”
Barge told The Blaze he served in the National Guard for nearly five years as an infantryman and served with 41 other soldiers from Virginia in the Uruzgan province in southern Afghanistan.
Tristan Byrely, the apartment manager, has been unavailable for comment.
In the comments section at The Blaze, Barge wrote that he and his wife have used the glass table shown in the photograph for "several years."
Another person suggested contacting the complex to express outrage over the incident.
The Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2006, signed by President George W. Bush, says that a condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association "may not adopt or enforce any policy, or enter into any agreement, that would restrict or prevent a member of the association from displaying the flag of the United States on residential property within the association with respect to which such member has a separate ownership interest or a right to exclusive possession or use."
Update: Riverwalk Apartments has relented and will let Barge keep his flag.
“The apartment has agreed to allow the flag to remain on the patio! Riverwalk is owned by a Local Virgina based company. They were very apologetic about the whole issue and want it to be known they too support the US flag and what it stands for,” Barge told The Blaze in an email.
“I greatly appreciate all of the support that has been shown to myself and those we have lost fighting for freedom,” he wrote.
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