My dad was a Navy veteran from World War II. He enlisted in 1940 before the war broke out and served 6 years, getting out with an honorable discharge in 1946. The ship he was on wasn’t a glamourous ship, but it was present at a number of major naval engagements in the Pacific. The ship was originally a cargo ship, one of the largest the Navy had at the time. During the war, it was converted to an ammunition ship, again, one of the largest the Navy had in the Pacific.
Although dad was an enlisted man, he did develop a relationship with the captain. The captain liked to fish when opportunity allowed and dad was one of the few on board that could operate the captain’s skip the way he liked while fishing. In 1946, just before dad processed out of the Navy, they mothballed his ship. When they did, the captain presented one of the American flags that flew on board the ship during war. According to the captain, the flag flew during the battles of Saipan and Bougainville. It’s a 48-star flag, made of wool and after having flown at sea, had some wear, but that was the flag my dad would fly on special occasions like Flag, Day, Veterans’ Day, July 4th and Memorial Day.
On one July 4, a neighbor down the road called the sheriff’s department (we lived in the county) to report that dad was flying an illegal flag. When the deputy showed up, dad explained why he was flying a 48-star flag, because he served under that flag during the war and it meant a lot more to him than some printed piece of nylon one would buy in a store. The deputy told dad to fly his flag whenever he wanted and then told the neighbor to shut up, go home and mind his own business.
I learned that day what the American flag really means to a veteran who served under and for that flag. That’s also why I’m appalled to hear of a growing number of instances where veterans are being told to stop flying their American flag, and this instance is one of those. Several years before my dad died, he gave that flag to me. I have it properly folded and displayed in a nice flag-display box where I can gaze upon it whenever I want.
Ronald Raeta of Gait, California served in the Navy as did his son. Gait is a small town of about 24,000 people, located about 20 miles south southeast of Sacramento. Raeta decided he would show his patriotism by putting up a second flagpole at his house where he could display a second American flag. Raeta’s daughter, Sherri, told the local media:
“We thought it would look beautiful to show our patriotism of having two beautiful American flags on our property.”
However, after erecting his second flagpole and flying American flags on both, he was notified by Gait officials that he had to remove one of his flagpoles because it violated the neighborhood codes. At first, the family thought it was joke until they were informed that code only allows one flagpole per parcel of land and that pole can be no higher than 20 feet.
Raeta, referring to himself and his son, told the media:
“We both love the American flag, we love America. I just can’t believe anybody would want us to take down an American flag.”
When word got out in the community, many of the residents were angered over the city ordering the veteran to remove one of his flagpoles. In response to the community uproar, Chris Erias, Director of City Community Development told the media that the city is considering changing the code so that Raeta could keep his second flagpole.
One has to wonder why the city would have restricted flying the American flag in the first place. No one explained why the code was originally written, but one can only assume it has to do with California and the Sacramento area being so filled with liberal Democrats. You certainly wouldn’t see that from Republicans.