Flying the US Air Force flag?
Woman files suit to fly her flags 
Article Courtesy of The Herald News Online - Suburban Chicago
By John Whiteside 
Posted September 7, 2002 

Illinois - Donna Guinta has filed a lawsuit in order to keep a United States Air Force flag flying on the front of her home in the Wesmere Subdivision off Caton Farm Road.

  The flag was placed there in honor of her son, Jon Guinta, 19, who enlisted in the Air Force out of a sense of patriotism following the Sept. 11 terrorism attack. 

  But the homeowners association has threatened Guinta with fines if she doesn't remove the military flag. The association rules say only an American flag can be flown in the subdivision.

  Guinta's Air Force flag is on one front corner of her garage, which faces the street. On the other garage corner, she has an American flag.

  State Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego, is the attorney representing Guinta in the lawsuit against Wesmere Country Club Association and Caldwell Banker Honig-Bell. The suit asks the court for an injunction halting them from enforcing the flag rule and assessing daily fines.

  "It's amazing that we had to do this," Cross said on Friday. "I'm almost speechless. As an American, I don't understand this board. We have a mother here who just wants to honor her son who joined the Air Force... It's sad that we have to do this."

  Jon Guinta, who graduated from Plainfield High School last year, was deeply affected by the Sept. 11 terrorism attack upon America, his mother said. He joined the Air Force last fall under the delayed enlistment program.

  Proud of her son, Guinta bought the Air Force flag at a military surplus store and hung it on the garage last fall. It has been flying there since then.

  Jon left for active duty in June. When he graduated from boot camp on Aug. 2, Guinta attended the ceremony at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. When she returned home a few days later, there was a letter about the flag waiting from the homeowners association.

  The letter said she had 21 days to take down the flag or face a fine. When she protested and noted it was an Air Force flag, she was told it violated the rules.

  "I'm not taking it down," Guinta vowed.

  I first told her story in The Herald news on Aug. 16.

  After that story was published, I received at least three phone calls from residents in Wesmere who said they, too, were flying military flags in honor of family members. But they hadn't received any letters from the homeowners association.

  The lawsuit notes, "Plaintiff is informed and believes that the country club association has allowed the flying of flags other than the American flag without threat of fine. Flags which the country club association has allowed include those depicting flowers and logos of various sports teams."

  It further states, "The flag rule is incapable of being enforced in the courts of this state, since such enforcement would involve state action triggering plaintiff's rights under the First Amendment, as incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution."

  "This case raises no less a question than whether public policy, as embodied in our federal and state constitutions, our state statutes and laws, and the very principles that separate us from other nations, protects the rights of a mother to show support for her son in the face of draconian rules by which the country club association seeks to silence her," the suit states.

  Cross told me that his client is just a good American mother attempting to show support for her son.

  "Her flag isn't cluttering up the subdivision," the attorney said. "It's amazing that we have to do this so she can fly that flag."

  The registered agent for the Wesmere Country Club Association couldn't be reached for comment. 

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