Marine's Parents Shouldn't Have to Fight for Right to Honor Son

yellow ribbonI can't think of many parents who have it as hard as military moms and dads. So if I found out a family's child is a lance corporal in the Marine Corps proudly serving his country in Afghanistan, I'd be bending over backward to throw a little extra support their way. But the Gardens of Southgate Homeowners Association in Louisiana doesn't have quite the same respect for military families.

They've served Jodi and Timothy Burr with a lawsuit for putting up a sign in their front yard that proclaims "our son defends our freedom." The association says the sign, which also features a picture of Lance Cpl. Corey Burr, violates association rules. Clear cut case? Not so much.


The family says they will make a change ... if the association would just TALK to them. But letters they've sent in have gone unanswered. Requests for a meeting with the association have been ignored. And when they challenged the association on the content of the sign -- because other signs for other causes remain in neighborhood lawns -- a representative of the Air Force was sent to their house to challenge them on whether they'd be so ready to fight for the right of a neighbor to have an anti-war sign hanging in their yard.

I don't live in Louisiana, and I've only seen pictures of the sign online. It's hard to judge how out of place it might be in a small community. But it strikes me as awfully fishy that a community association won't work with a military family to find a way to honor a member of our troops who is currently deployed in a way that preserves the neighborhood aesthetic.

I understand rules. I'd expect military families in particular to want to follow them -- because that is very much what our armed forces are about. So I'm willing to say the sign should go, but I'd also like to think communities would want to find a way to keep these sorts of talismans for military parents. A smaller sign. A requirement that it be hung on the house instead of posted in the yard. SOMETHING that balances the fact that these military families give a lot to our country with the rules. They aren't above the law, but they're worth that much respect a least.

I once lived in an area that was densely populated with military families -- the Hampton Roads section of Virginia. Seeing an American flag and a proclamation of patriotism always did my heart good. I'd rather see that than a broken down hoopty in the front yard and Christmas lights in July.

Do you think the homeowners' association should try to work this out before resorting to the courts? Would you object to this sort of signage in your neighborhood?


Image via jronaldlee/Flickr

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