Let’s behave the way we should

If you are looking for a nice display of American flags this Fourth of July, you may want to visit Chelmsford, Mass. LAER Realty Partners in that community has the banners, along with a good dose of good old-fashioned independence.

A few weeks ago, LAER ran afoul of local government for its patriotic display of scores of American flags on a lawn at its location. A town code enforcement officer decided LAER was breaking one of those innumberable rules so many towns and cities have restricting what homeowners and businesses can do with their own property. He left a notice at the realty office asking that the “excessive” number of flags be reduced.

LAER employees and friends had an appropriate response: They added more flags. And some in the news media as well as many individuals using social media, picked right up on it. It was one of those “town that discourages patriotism” stories.

Except it wasn’t. Chelmsford’s rules were meant to limit businesses from displaying signs for commercial purposes. A town official explained that the code enforcer believed the rules consider “flags as signs, when displayed in connection with commercial promotion.”

LAER CEO Stacey Alcorn said the flags had nothing to do with commercial promotion. “It was us as a community just honoring our veterans and those who serve for us,” she noted.

Needless to say, the flap left Chelmsford officials embarassed. They were considering a change in town rules to eliminate similar problems in the future.

Clearly, they didn’t like the idea of being viewed as unpatriotic louts attempting to keep other people from showing their patriotism.

Obviously, no one in the Chelmsford mini-bureacracy is anti-American. As the town manager pointed out, the code enforcer has served as a Marine and “did not seek to act in an unpatriotic way.”

In fact, the code enforcer was just trying to do his job. He would have done the same thing had the realty company been displaying a lawn full of, say, small banners on which the words “Have a nice day” were emblazoned.

This Independence Day, we Americans have trouble enough getting along due to honest but very real differences of opinion. Adding to the divisiveness by accusing others unfairly of being unpatriotic simply makes no sense. In a very real way, in fact, such behavior is anti-American.