A mailbox covered with the American flag is at the center of a dispute brewing between a retired U.S. veteran and a homeowners association in Florida.
Retired U.S. Navy Officer John Ackert says he received a letter last week from the Southwood Residential Community Associate in Tallahassee that asked him to remove the wrapping of Old Glory around the mailbox or face penalties.
He told WCTV he's not backing down without a fight and has made an appeal.
“I view this as a form of bullying to be honest,” Ackert said. “And I think people should stand up to bullying of any form, and particularly this.”
Ackert said the H.O.A claimed his mailbox was not “in consonance” with the aesthetic values of Southwood.
“As the holiday season comes to a close, please remove the American flag mailbox wrap,” the letter read. “Decoration may be displayed 30 days prior and must be taken down 15 days after.”
He said the wrap has been up for four years.
“It was put there 30 days after I moved into this house.”
In a statement, the Southwood Residential Community Association's board of directors said it "honors all those actively serving in the military and the veterans who have made sacrifices for our freedom" and that its members were willing to talk to Ackert "to find a resolution."
"Many homes in Southwood proudly fly the American flag," the statement read. "In keeping with the Florida Statue, the community allows residents to display two portable flags (one American flag and one U.S. military flag), plus two additional flags on a freestanding 20-foot flagpole (one American flag and one U.S. military flag)."
Some of Ackert’s neighbors told WCTV the letter was a bit harsh and said they were not entirely surprised by the H.O.A’s actions.
“They do things like this all the time,” Mike Stephenson said. “I think it’s ridiculous. What’s wrong with being patriotic in the country you live in?”
Mike Patel said: “The man’s a veteran, he served the country. It’s just a mailbox with a flag. I don’t think it’s right. He owns the house, he can at least have that.”
The H.O.A. letter says Ackert has 15 days to remove the wrap or face a fine. He has not received a response to his appeal.