Flying the American Flag is a sign of patriotism for millions of Americans.
Turlocker Donnell Bak wants to make it a requirement for Stanislaus County businesses and nonprofits.
Bak, a war veteran and 15-year member of the American Legion, gathered about 600 signatures on a petition asking the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors to pass an ordinance requiring all county businesses to raise the stars and stripes.
The reason for the proposed law?
“To give respect to the American Soldiers now serving in war in foreign countries and the fallen soldiers who have died recently in Iraq, and Afghanistan,” as the petition reads.
Bak said he was spurred into action as he drove around town one day and noticed a dearth of flags at local businesses. He began to wonder what that meant about the people of this county.
“This disturbed me,” Bak said. “It affected me.”
As a member of the American Legion Honor Guard, Bak has attended countless military funerals. He sees a broader flying of the American Flag as a way to honor those who gave their lives to their country, and to keep citizens aware of the sacrifices being made abroad every day.
The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors formally received Bak’s petition Tuesday morning, but did not comment on the document other than to explain the process to Bak.
“(The petition) will be forwarded to the CEO’s office for review and recommendation back to the board,” said District 3 Supervisor and Chairman of the Board Jeff Grover.
Given the First Amendment right to free speech, it’s unlikely the board will move forward with a flag-flying ordinance.
But Bak stood up to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting and offered an alternative solution that he hopes will bring the American Flag into the spotlight.
In Paradise, 20 years ago, Bak worked on a project to fly the Star-Spangled Banner at more businesses in town. Based on that work, he’s proposing the establishment of a new committee to adorn businesses across the county with flags on every major holiday.
At sunup on major holidays, the Fly the Flag committee in Paradise sets up flags along one chosen street — with the local businesses’ approval. At sundown, volunteers come by and remove the flags, storing them until the next holiday, Bak said.
The committee doesn’t use any government dollars, instead funding the flags through donations. Private individuals purchase most flags, which are embroidered with the name of the donor or a veteran relative.
Bak hopes to receive the Board of Supervisors’ blessing to make a countywide Fly the Flag committee a reality.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.