Poll: Sen. Timilty 'Outraged' by Wrentham Flag Ban Debacle ... Are You?

State Senator James Timilty sent a strongly worded letter to the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) after it ordered a ban on public display of American Flags in "common areas" of a Wrentham apartment complex. What do you think?

State Senator James Timilty (D-Walpole), who represents Foxborough, made his frustrations and outrage known to the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) in a strongly worded letter Thursday after it ordered Wrentham's Housing Authority to ban public display of the American Flag in the common areas of Garden Lane apartments after a single tenant's complaints.

Timilty, in a letter to DHCD Thursday, called the decision "a disgrace to everything the American Flag represents" and "absolutely unacceptable."

Here's a look at Timilty's letter to DHCD in its entirety:

"Dear Undersecretary Gornstein,

It is with great frustration that I write to express my vehement opposition and outrage to the Department of Housing and Community Development's recent order banning the display of American Flags at the Wrentham Housing Authority. As you no doubt are aware, the public display of all American Flags in common areas has been prohibited and restricted to the interior of tenants' apartments.

First and foremost, I maintain that this order is a disgrace to everything that the American Flag represents. The flag has proudly been displayed as a sacred symbol of personal freedoms guaranteed to every American for the past 235 years. It continuously reminds us of these freedoms every day and any attempt of a government agency to prohibit its display on public property is not only unconscionable, it is a violation of the very freedoms it represents.

Secondly, to institute this policy following the Independence Day holiday, a day where all Americans join together in the commemoration of the American Revolution, is absolutely unacceptable. Massachusetts Statesman and American President John Adams once said that the American Independence "ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, form this time forward forever more." The Fourth of July is a national holiday marked by varying degrees of patriotic display and the DHCD would do well to amend its policies to accommodate such demonstrations of celebration.

Most importantly, this order serves as an insult to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces and their families who have sacrificed so much in honor of the American Flag. Many of my constituents have expressed their anger to what can only amount to be a horrible mistake and I formally request that the order be rescinded immediately and an apology be issued to the residents of Garden Lane in Wrentham.

Thank you for your attention to this extremely important matter. I look forward to a timely resolution to this issue and encourage you to contact me directly should you have any questions.


James E. Timilty
State Senator
Bristol & Norfolk"

, DHCD later called the order of banning flags in common areas of the Wrentham apartment complex a "mistake" and American flags would be allowed to hang outside. DHCD spokesman Jason Lefferts told WBZ Thursday morning the state agency was "not aware of this decision when it was made, and it was a mistake that is being corrected immediately. Department of Housing and Community Development policy for local housing authorities includes not allowing displays of private materials in public areas. This does not extend to respectful and safe displays of the American flag.”

DHCD's "mistake" went public at approximately 8:12 p.m. Wednesday after a photograph of a letter, allegedly from the Wrentham Housing Authority, appeared on Twitter, which told residents of Garden Lane that any public displays of the American Flag would not be allowed in common areas. According to the letter, the ban is due to the repeated complaints of one tenant during the Fourth of July holiday to the Department of Housing and Community Development.

The text of the letter goes as follows:

"To: All Residents of Garden Lane

Due to a tenant's repeated complaints reported to the Department of Housing and Community Development over the July 4th holiday, Wrentham Housing Authority has been informed that the public display of the American Flag in the common areas is not permitted. As a result, all American flag displays must be restricted to the interior of your apartment. Flags may be visible through the apartment windows but may not be displayed on the exterior of the buildings or on the ground around the building."

U.S. Senator Scott Brown (Republican), who lives in Wrentham, issued the following statement Thursday regarding the banning issue.

"Our flag stands for freedom, and is a symbol of sacrifice made by our servicemen and women to protect the liberties we enjoy today," Brown said. "Flying the American flag should never be controversial and no citizen should ever been prevented from doing so.”

After the flag ban at Garden Lane was reversed, State Representative Dan Winslow (R-Norfolk), who represents Wrentham, passed out flags residents.

"I’m glad that they’ve admitted their mistake, I don’t think it goes far enough,” Winslow said while handing out flags. “I think that whoever made this decision at the state level is by definition grossly incompetent and we oughta fire that person and replace them with an unemployed veteran who I guarantee you would not make this mistake.”

So Foxborough, we want to know what you think of this issue involving your neighbors in Wrentham ...

Today's question: Was the DHCD's decision to ban public display of American Flags in "common areas" of a Wrentham apartment complex un-American? Vote in our poll and be sure to leave a comment!

bobby hayden July 16, 2012 at 10:40 AM
I started my military service post Viet Nam era when it was not fashionable to wear the uniform. Our own countrymen did not treat us with respect. That war had embittered the public opinion of us. Over my years of service we regained our standing in society by fighting several successful campaigns. Public opinion had turned in our favor. 9/11 was a horrible wake up call for our nation. Signs of patriotism afterwards was a good thing. People needed to heal and showing support for our country was part of that healing. I don't understand how you can dismiss any sign of patriotism as "cheap and easy" and I feel it is actually quite arrogant of you to presume thee people have contributed nothing. You shouldn't presume to know them either. As far as getting off my high horse goes, I will if you do.
Steve July 16, 2012 at 11:52 AM
And it is the flag of the country you live in.....leave the country, it's that simple
Steve July 16, 2012 at 11:58 AM
clap clap clap thank you Bobby H for a slightly different perspective to this issue and thank you for your service to our county. Dennis just because there are a bunch of "yahoos" waving flags because it's "in fashion" does not mean that the rest of us lose our right to show our true patriotism, especially on the Fourth of July. That is the point of THIS story.
Dennis Naughton July 16, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Thanks for the history lesson Bobby. My experience has been that a significant number of the most energetic flag waivers (e.g. the people who drive around with them on their cars, pickups and motorcycles) are the least informed about what is really going on in the country and in the world. This was especially evident during the Vietnam era. Such extremists tend to substitute emotion for reason and information, and are rarely interested in the facts. I'm sure you will agree that such people are not acting is not in the best interest of the democracy that we all love and have worn the uniform to defend. There is nothing wrong with "normal" display of the flag, and I have not said that there was. My whole point, missed by some in their overreaction to my comments, is that doing so is no substitute for real patriotism.
bobby hayden July 16, 2012 at 04:47 PM
That was not meant as a history lesson Dennis. I wanted to give you a peak at my life experience to understand the basis of my opinion. I don't see much comparison today to those of the violent protest of the Viet Nam war. One of the bravest men I ever met was awarded the silver star for heroism during the battle of Fallujah. He has a flag on his truck and on his motorcycle. I am sure my comments will be construed as argumentative by some and if so I apologize. But this is subject quite dear to me. To put things back on track, Thank you Steve. The right to show true patriotism is the point and as I have for most of my life I will defend it to the end.


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