Ex-soldier won't give up on flying flag in West Boynton development
Posted: February 20, 2003
By Patty Pensa 

WEST BOYNTON - A smile of satisfaction spread across Will Gallien's face Wednesday as he raised a crisp American flag behind his Mizner Falls home.

"That's what I wanted," said Gallien, 62, admiring his handiwork.

For Gallien, the flag is an essential finishing touch for his new home west of Boynton Beach. With war looming with Iraq, he said, now is the time for Americans to fly their flags proudly.

"I was home the other day thinking, `This is America and no one's going to tell me I can't put up an American flag,'" Gallien said.

The management company running the active-adult community twice denied Gallien's request for the 25-foot flagpole. Homeowners association rules allow residents to display flags in flag holders attached to their homes, said sales director Mike Setaro. Poles are not allowed.

Will Gallien shows his American flag, which he hoisted for the first time Wednesday on his newly installed flag pole in violation of community rules.

Gallien decided to have the pole installed anyway, and precedent may be in his favor.

Similiar sentiment has prompted a battle of more than three years between a former Marine and his homeowners association in Jupiter. Resident George Andres is fighting about $30,000 in fines for refusing to remove a 12-foot flagpole from his yard.

The state Legislature, with backing from Gov. Jeb Bush, stepped in last year on Andres' behalf. It passed a law to allow homeowners to display "one portable, removable United States flag in a respectful manner."

Homeowners association rules do not apply, according to the law. But Andres' association is appealing the case because the law allowed his flagpole retroactively.

Boca Raton attorney Barry Silver, who represents Andres, said the Mizner Falls management company should not have denied Gallien's request to fly his flag. He said the law was intended to include flagpoles, though it does not specifically refer to them.

"There's no reason why they should be enforcing it," Silver said.

Setaro said he didn't think the new state law applied to Gallien. Even so, the management company will not impose the $100-a-day fine for violating the community's rule.

Instead, he said, the issue will go to a new ad-hoc committee of residents for a decision next week.

"The management company will go by the book until the HOA takes over," Setaro said. "Whatever they do, they are setting precedent."

Gallien's next-door neighbor, Joan Meyer, was surprised when permission for the flagpole was denied. Once the residents take over the homeowners association, she said, she would like to see a flag at the community's entrance.

"We have American soldiers, men and women, dying for that flag," she said. "I think it should be flown."

Since Gallien was a teen, he said, he has had a burning desire to fight for America. Gallien sneaked into the Army at age 15. He finished basic training at Fort Dix, N.J., and was sent to Missouri as a combat engineer in the mid-1950s.

"I always had a longing to pay back for my freedom," he said.

A year later, Gallien was discharged after Army officials found out he was underage, and he was never allowed back into service.

But Gallien grew fond of the flag. For 15 years, a flag has been stapled to the front of his home in Marblehead, Mass.

At his summer home in Denmark, Maine, a flag has flown 110 feet above the ground, from a pine tree, for 10 years.

His wife's flower shop in Salem, Mass., has flown a 12-by-18-foot flag from a 75-foot pole near the street. City officials there denied Gallien a permit seven years ago, but Gallien ignored their decision.

The letter from Phoenix Management, the Mizner Falls management company, didn't explain the decision, Gallien said.

"They have no reason for denying it," he said.

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