Marine Veteran battles to keep American flag flying

HYPOLUXO, FL (WFLX) - A former Marine is waging a new battle: fly his American flag.

Shimmering in red, white and blue, 13 stripes and 50 stars, it's considered a sign of patriotism and a symbol of nation unity

But in the town of Hypoluxo, this American flag display is code violation. "It's sad. It's sad that we have to go through that just to fly a flag," said U.S. Marine Veteran Gregory Schaffer.

Schaffer says after serving overseas in Iraq, flying a flag in his front yard is a must. But after hoisting up old glory a few weeks ago, he was slapped with a citation after an anonymous neighbor complained. "It's disgusting that anybody should have to go through that," Schaffer said. "I fought for the flag. Now, I'm paying for the flag."

"Why is it that this guy can't fly his flag?," he asked.

"Well, he can fly his flag; the issue is that he has to get a building permit," explained building official Tim Large.

Large, with the Hypoluxo Building Department, says the flag pole is considered a structure. This means if Schaffer doesn't have a permit, the Star Spangled Banner has to come down. "I would love to see the guy be able to do this. To me, it's not personal. It's strictly my job."

But because Schaffer is renting the house, he has to have a third party contractor come in to apply for the permit which could cost nearly $1,000.

Still, this Marine veteran says whatever happens, he has no animosity for the neighbor who complained -- who ever it was.

He knows complaining and petitioning are freedoms he fought for. "I respect their right to be able to file a complaint and handle things the way they did. Do I respect what they did? No, I respect their ability to do so," he concluded.

The building official we spoke with says normally people have 30 days to get up to code, but he's going to work with him and extend that deadline.

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