SEVIERVILLE (WATE) - A retired Green Beret has lost his battle to keep the American flag flying in front of his home.
No one at Homer Hampton's condo association denied him the right to fly his flag. They couldn't. That's because the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act passed by Congress in 2005 says no homeowners association can adopt a policy that would restrict any member from displaying the flag.
However, an HOA can place restrictions as to where the flag can be displayed.
Atop a tall pole, Old Glory has been flying in front of Homer Hampton's condo since last October. And he's been fighting to keep it there.
But the Riverbend Gardens Homeowners' Association in Sevierville says the flag's placement on general common property - in this case, his front yard - violates HOA restrictions.
Homer, a retired Green Beret master sergeant and Vietnam veteran, battled the HOA for half a year, but lost.
So other day, with the help of his wife Shirley, Homer reluctantly lowered the flag for the last time.
It was difficult for him to hide his emotion over the court's ruling.
"It is unthinkable that a man can't fly the flag wherever he lives," he said.
"I'm very disappointed," Shirley said. "I think anyone who wants to should be able to fly the flag."
In October of last year, the condo association's attorney wrote the couple, saying their flag pole was erected on common property.
Common elements include front yards of individual condo units and common elements are not owned separately.
So the flag, pole, and lights were ordered on May 3 to come down.
In the order, the court said the couple violated the association's master deed which they had signed a decade ago.
Last fall, Homer showed 6 On Your Side locations where the association says he can display the flag.
"They're saying I can put it on the side of my house here with one of those brackets," he said.
Or he can put the flag, but not a pole, in the shrubbery garden next to his front window.
For three years, he displayed the flag on a pole at the side of his unit.
Homer says the HOA said nothing about the flag then, but he removed it last June when the pole had deteriorated.
As the couple folded their flag for the final time, Homer said he's not going to put up another flag at his home.
"They are not deserving to see the flag, the beauty of my flag flying," he said.
Riverbend resident Hazel Taylor said while she respects Hampton's beliefs about the flag, she says HOA rules are specific.
"If it was a home out on his own property, I think it would be wonderful to have it. But that's just one of the rules that we don't fly anything like that, that's the reason," Taylor said.
Although they don't like it, the couple reluctantly followed the courts ruling.
"The decision has been made. We have to accept it and just move on," Shirley said.
Since the couple was sued by the condo association and lost, the Hamptons now face a big legal bill in excess of $5,000.
Does he regret fighting the association? Not at all, Homer said.
Don Dare's 6 On Your Side reports can be seen every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on 6 News at 6:00.
If you have a consumer issue, call the 6 On Your Side Hotline at 865-633-5974 or email email@example.com.