Sgt. Chris Link, an active duty Fort Hood soldier, discovered himself in a different type of fight than he had anticipated when he entered the military. Link was residing in the Falls of Fox Creek subdivision in Killeen, Texas, when he received an email from Robert Woods, the homeowners association president, asking that the American flag on a pole in his yard be removed.
Despite the fact that “90% of the homeowners are retired military,” the email directed Link to take down the flag or confront a violation and possible fine because community guidelines stated flags could not be flown on poles and could only be displayed on Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, and Flag Day.
Instead of complying, Sgt. Link opted to protect his right to fly the American flag in the property he was renting. Although he removed the flag from the pole, he rather bracketed it to his house and informed the HOA manager about the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005.
The HOA president, on the other hand, had a quite different attitude than the HOA manager. “You cannot display your flag. We have gone through this with a number of homeowners. Please remove it, or I will have your fine sent out today,” Woods said.
The matter is resolved, and frankly, he thinks it is absolutely despicable and disrespectful of one to attempt to coerce the inhabitants of this community into not flying an AMERICAN flag, Link said, arguing that the HOA regulations only mention possessing a flagpole and not displaying a flag. Woods, though, refused to let it go, and the HOA president sent photos to the homeowner who rented Link the house.
The homeowner, according to Woods, desired the flag removed and did not approve of its connection to the house. After admitting that she was unaware of the federal legislation, the HOA manager agreed not to punish Link in compliance with the act. Sgt. Link then turned his attention to the president of the HOA. He told Robert Woods of the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 in an email.
As word of the argument spread, several of Link’s neighbors were upset to learn that the HOA had said the veteran was not permitted to fly the American flag at his home. Clifford Devaul, a veteran and Link’s neighbor, said that he doesn’t think somebody who owns a house in the United States of America should be told they can’t fly the colors, the flag for that same nation. Some of the neighbors who backed Link’s right to fly the flag began flying their own flags as an expression of solidarity.
Sgt. Chris Link retained counsel, and attorney Josh Pearson told Sgt. Link has not broken any legitimate or enforceable elements of the HOA rules. And it looks like he was correct. After being frequently threatened with penalties for displaying the American flag at his home, it was eventually found that no active inquiry was ever launched. According to Associa Hill Country of Round Rock’s legal counsel, no fine was ever looming.
That flag signifies a great deal more to him than a lot of people understand, said Sgt. Chris Link.That’s the sole reason he joined the Army… to fight for his nation because he loves that flag; he loves all that flag represents, he continued. It is a nationally protected right to fly the American flag in America regardless of where one is, Link added. People have clearly been pressured into removing their flags. Simply take a stance and fight for one’s rights. Link did exactly that, and he not only emerged victorious, but he also lectured others on their legal illiteracy. Excellent work, soldier.