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Condo association and The Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005

American flag on white house

Betty has some questions about flying the American flag at condos.

I am in a new condo development, where we are developing rules. Each building is a duplex of 2 patio homes. Can we restrict the display to one flag per duplex mounted on a specific wall shared by both units? Given the design, there is no room to display a flag near the front door or patio.  Also, can the association require, at the homeowners expense, that a specific bracket be used and installed by an approved contractor? Surface is brick, placement is crucial and proper drill bits are needed to preserve the integrity if the brick.

American flag on white house
U.S. flag on white house with tree

Hi Betty. The condo development is very smart to consider these ideas in a pro-active way. The goal of the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005  was protect both the homeowners and property management, but there are still problems in execution.

The law protects each homeowner, so limiting a duplex to one (shared) flag would be a violation of the law. And I think there would be problems with ownership, responsibility, maintenance, et cetera with a shared flag. The owner in Side A might be willing to buy the best flag available, and the owner in Side B might be satisfied with buying a flag from a road-side vendor.

Certainly the condo association can enact specific rules regarding installing a flag mount, but if the rules are onerous, they will be challenged. As you are doubtless aware, there have been numerous stories this summer about homeowners running afoul of their HOA over flying the American flag. The negative publicity to the HOAs and management companies has been terrible, even when they were in compliance with the law, and the homeowner was not.

A necessary tension exists between the homeowner and the HOA or condo association. The homeowner’s right to display an American flag is absolute, but the “management” has a fiduciary responsibility to the entire development, and does have the right to set reasonable standards.

What if the condo development association bought top-quality flag mounts and installed them at each condo, precisely where they wanted them, as a courtesy to each homeowner. If the homeowner doesn’t want to display a flag—no problem (just ignore the flag mount), and for those who want to fly a flag, the flag mount is already there. The condo standards are maintained, and the homeowner has a choice in his flag purchase.

For what it’s worth, the facings on garage doors are a popular area for flag mounts. I see it quite often in condo and townhouse locations.

The text of the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 can be found in Section 5 of the U.S. Flag Code.

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What Alex sees when he goes walking …

Sidewalk Photographer Alex Richman of Brooklyn, N.Y. was out and about a few weekends ago, and found some red, white, and blue that seemed to follow a theme … wheels! For those of you who don’t live in big cities, the center photo was taken on a train!

To see more of Alex’s work, his professional website is here, and his blog "Sidewalk Photography" is here.







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A story for Flag Day: Bob Heft on New Glory—The story of Old Glory

Bob Heft designed our 50-star flag in 1958 as a class project when he was seventeen, and a student in Lancaster, Ohio. Here is his incredible and charming story—in his own words.

NOTE: This video runs for over 48 minutes, and Bob doesn’t start speaking until about 32 seconds on the clock, so be patient with the black screen.

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A confluence of images


This photograph from the Library of Congress is titled:
Airplane on battleship deck with American flag in foreground.

It says further down in the text that the person who cataloged the photo titled it. I can’t imagine how daunting a task it must have been—to catalog the thousands of photographs taken by the military photographers during the war years. So I won’t grumble that the cataloger called the ship a battleship instead of an aircraft carrier.

I can’t tell enough about the airplane to identify it—so O Reader, if you can identify it, please comment below.

What I CAN tell you is that the photographer most likely spent a long time waiting for all these elements to come together. He knew they would eventually—and then he recorded it for us.

CALL NUMBER: LC-USF343- 091270-C [P&P]
REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-USF343-091270-C (b&w film neg.)
MEDIUM: 1 negative : safety ; 4 x 5 inches or smaller.
CREATED/PUBLISHED: [between 1935 and 1942]
NOTES: Title devised by cataloger.
Transfer; United States. Office of War Information. Overseas Picture Division. Washington Division; 1944.
SUBJECTS: United States.
FORMAT: Safety film negatives.
PART OF: Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection (Library of Congress)
REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, DC 20540
DIGITAL ID: (intermediary roll film) fsa 8e03045
CONTROL #: fsa2000055851/PP

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Fort Monroe in 1864

Isn’t this a terrific photo! That particular design of the flag was very popular during the period. There must have been a grand wind blowing in from Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic on that day. Notice how everyone is trying to stand still and pose for the photograph. The sign to the right of the photo says “Baltimore Wharf,” but I cannot read the smaller signs.

Fort Monroe 1864

From the Library of Congress: Fort Monroe, Virginia, 1864

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The American Flag Ceiling?

USflagonceiling Section 8(f) of the U.S. Flag Code puzzles me.

(f) The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.

Believing that most laws (and rules) have an originating  factor, my mind races to understand what must have transpired requiring this sentence’s inclusion in the Flag Code.

I can see it now—

Dateline Washington D.C., June 1942. Hot and muggy, Congress is in session hammering out one of the most important documents requiring their attention—the United States Flag Code.

The Distinguished Congressman from West Virginia, "I say gentlemen. We need to make sure no one uses the American flag for a bedspread in their private bedroom. This would demonstrate willful disrespect for Old Glory."

The Distinguished Congressman from Minnesota, "Well, unless its made out of wool, it wouldn’t be warm enough to use in my home state, but someone might use it to decorate the ceiling of their fishing shed."

West Virginia Congressman—"You don’t say … Hmmm, maybe we should include a ban on using the flag to cover a ceiling instead."

Congress in unison, "Hey, that’s a really, really good idea. We all make a motion to add a sentence to the Flag Code banning ceiling covering."

Congress in unison, "Second the motion."

" I have a motion and a second, all in favor? … Motion carried by majority. Now included in the United States Flag Code is a sentence banning any individual from covering their ceiling with an American flag."

Ok, maybe my rendition isn’t historically accurate*, but just think about it. What factors could have taken place that even brought this to their minds with enough force to ban the practice? I can’t imagine.

I also wanted to include a photograph with this editorial showing the U.S. Flag covering a ceiling, but this is the only example I could find, dated 1896—almost 50 years before it became a violation. At least this law against disrespect has worked.

*This is a dramatization. The U.S. Flag Code was a compilation from many different sources—State Flag Desecration Laws, Military Flag Codes, and more, compiled in 1923 by the National Flag Conference.

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Breathing a sigh of relief

Larry and I have have written before about using Google Reader to search for news and stories about flags. Larry has specific search guidelines set up in his reader, and I employ a *different set, but we do overlap in searches for these words: U.S. flag, American flag, Stars and Stripes, Texas flag, and Lone Star flag.

Google screen shot

Screen capture from Deborah’s Google news reader

And as much as I love the Lone Star flag (Larry too!), we are greatly relieved that the Texas primary elections are behind us now, because our Google news readers were swamped with hits for “Texas flag” and “Lone Star flag.” Hundreds of stories every day with Texas flag or Lone Star flag—often both—in the same story, and frequently repeated several times.

From the beginning of Flags Bay, I set up my Google reader to search for every state’s flag, and now as the politicians have traveled around the country on their campaigns, that state’s flag usually shows up in the news stories.

Only Ohio’s primary came anywhere near to producing as many flag stories as the Texas primary. Ohio’s pennant-shaped flag is unique among all the state flags, and was prominently features throughout the campaign process. But Wyoming’s flag was scarcely mentioned in their recent primary election, and Wyoming has a terrific flag!

On the maps below, from the The Washington Post, the states shown in white are states that have NOT held their primary elections. I hope those state flags will be featured if for no other reason than for me to build up my reserve stock of state flag photos!

map of primaries

maps of the Primaries from the Washington Post

*Larry likes to read about fast cars; I like to read about fast boats and fast airplanes—specifically P.T. boats and B-25 bombers. Go figure.