One of the fundamental ways that Americans show their patriotism, love of country and respect for our military is by flying the Stars and Stripes. Often, driving through a small town or out in the country on a summer day, you will see the American flag waving off the front porch or on a flag pole in the front yard.
But imagine being told that you were not allowed to display the flag. Last year, that very thing happened in a suburb of Columbus, where an 86-year-old resident was told by her landlord that the American flag she was flying on her front porch needed to be taken down because it violated her lease.
The story made headlines and yielded a tremendous amount of support for the resident, as people throughout central Ohio and the entire state were outraged by the restriction. It also inspired the introduction of House Bill 18 earlier this year by Reps. Anne Gonzales, of northeast Columbus, and Tim Ginter, who serves Columbiana County.
House Bill 18 protects Ohioans’ right to express their patriotism by prohibiting manufactured home park operators, landlords, neighborhood associations and condominium associations from restricting such activity in a rental agreement. Just like the American flag, the bill also protects the right to display military service flags, including the Blue Star flag, flown by families of deployed service members, and Gold Star flags that are flown by families of fallen service members.
The concept for the bill was originally introduced near the end of last year, but because of time constraints it never came to the House floor for a vote. At the outset of this year, entering a new legislative term, I was encouraged that it was again brought up for consideration and to the floor for a vote by the House.
Flying the American flag is not an activity that should be reserved only for things like Memorial Day, Independence Day or Flag Day, which we celebrated last week. We deserve the right, and should be encouraged, to proudly display the flag at all times of the year.
The freedoms we enjoy as Americans did not just occur by happenstance, nor should they ever be taken for granted. Hanging a flag or service banner in the yard or on the porch is a simple, yet meaningful, way to show that we understand and appreciate the sacrifice that was required for us to live in such a wonderful country.