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Veteran Forced To Sell Home For Refusing to Remove American Flag From His Porch

Jason Dearen/AP

For some Americans, the Fourth of July isn't the only time they chose to celebrate their country's independence.

For folks like Larry Murphree from Sweetwater, Florida, showing pride for your country is one of the simplest gestures one can do, and it's as easy as keeping a flag on your property.

"One day I was thinking about the country, and I put a small American flag on my front porch in a flower pot," Murphree said, adding that while it was only a small salute to the USA, it held great meaning to him.

"It's a small flag," he added, "but it stands for a big thank you."

However, not everyone in Murphree's community was thrilled with his actions, and he received a letter from the Home Owner Association (HOA) at the Tides Condominium in Sweetwater, asking him to remove it from his flower pot.

"I got a violation letter that stated the American flag was an unauthorized object and for me to take it down," Murphree said.

But, the veteran, who served six years as an Air Force air traffic controller during the Vietnam War, refused to take down his flag and was eventually fined $100 every day he didn't remove it. After amounting a total of $1,000, Murphree decided to get lawyer Gust Sarris involved.

"We believe we have the right to display the American flag, we filed suit in federal court," Sarris said.

According to Sarris, the two parties eventually came to an agreement where Murphree would be allowed to keep the flag in his flowerpot, but the HOA reversed their flag ordinance to a flower pot ordinance on a few months later.

This meant Murphree could fly his flag on a pole, but not in a flower pot.

"Somehow they re-categorized it and started doing the same thing again," Sarris explained, "which was the same flag, the same flower pot, the same dirt and the same plant."

Murphree, who's legal battle has been drawn on for seven years, said the HOA had began harassing him, and started to fine him for infractions such as not parking in his driveway straight enough, having a snowflake Christmas window decoration up after Christmas, and for putting solar lights up at Christmas.

To make matters worse, the 77-year-old was unaware that the the HOA had been using his HOA fee money to pay off the fines he had incurred, instead of its original purpose.

This came to a head in 2014 when the HOA placed a lien on Murphree's property, alleging he hadn't paid his mandatory dues. Eventually he said he was forced to sell his condo so it it wouldn't be foreclosed on.

"Sold my place at a tremendous loss and got out of here," Murphree explained, adding that while he's no longer living there, the HOA's rules still need to be challenged.

"Somebody had to stand up and say, 'this is not right,'" he said.

Do you think Murphree should have taken his flag down?

[H/T: First Coast News]

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Maya has been working at Shared for a year. She just begrudgingly spent $200 on a gym membership. Contact her at maya@shared.com