WWII Vet Wins Fight to Fly Flag

By:  Jack Kenny
05/26/2010
       

Joe Levangie's won the fight to display the American Flag.An 88-year-old Navy veteran of World War II is once again flying the American flag outside his apartment in Hillsborough, NH after the company managing the complex had forbidden the display. Joe Levangie and other residents of Maple Leaf Village were told flying their flags was a violation of management policy. A letter from EJL Management said the ban followed a policy that also prohibits lawn ornaments and grills on the property grounds. Levangie reluctantly took down his flag and then a maintenance crew removed the brackets and holder.

But Levangie launched a letter-writing campaign and drew national attention to what he considered an affront to the flag and the servicemen who have given their all in defense of their county. He scorned the company’s statement. “I was madder than hell,” the former sailor told WMUR-TV in Manchester, which first reported the story. Levangie was on a ship torpedoed off the cost of North Africa during World War II and saw some of his shipmates buried at sea. He has been flying his American flag in “respect for all the troops serving overseas now and for those who never came back," he said. He dismissed as inadequate the company’s gesture of placing a flag at the entrance of the complex to honor the residents’ patriotism.

“Why should it be sufficient?” he asked. “Is the one in Concord (the state capital) sufficient for the state of New Hampshire?” 

Maple Leaf Village is a 44-unit apartment complex for the elderly or disabled. Rents are subsidized through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. A HUD representative said the EJL policy did not violate the Freedom to fly the American Flag Act of 1975, which forbids any condominium association, cooperative association or real estate management company from adopting or enforcing a policy to restrict or prevent a resident from displaying the flag of the United States. The law, however, allows “any reasonable restriction pertaining to the time place or manner of displaying the flag of the United States necessary to protect a substantial interest of” the property owners or management company.

By the end of last week, Hillsborough Police Association and the local American Legion post reached an agreement with the management company to allow the residents to fly their flags again. The police and the veterans group have offered to keep an eye on the flags to make sure they are in good condition. If a resident can’t replace a flag that is torn or ragged, the police association will cover the cost of a replacement.

On Saturday, Levangie was flying the flag outside his home again. But the 88-year-old veteran who left his job with Goodrich Tire to fight overseas in World War II, still found it strange that he had to fight for the flag all over again in the “Live Free Or Die State.”      

“I say what’s happening here?” he asked Fox News. “They don’t want American flags? Your own American flag you don’t want? That’s why they’re not speaking Japanese or German right now.” 

Jack Kenny is a freelance writer living in New Hampshire. Send him an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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