Woodstock, Ga. – As they do every year, neighbors in the Village of Towne Lakes have the Optimist Club put up flags in everyone’s front yards to commemorate Memorial Day.
"It is just beautiful," said resident Donna Gorshe. "It touches everyone's heart."
Homeowner Jerry Benik looks forward to raising donations and overseeing the installation.
"There are about five or six of us who have done it on a regular basis," he told 11Alive.
But this year, they’re breaking new rules recently sent out by their Homeowner’s Association – and taking this battle to a whole new level.
On Tuesday, 11Alive News shared the email that says residents can only fly American flags on 23 holidays, and only from dawn until dusk. It states that if they keep the flags up beyond that, they’ll be fined. That is directed at those who have flag poles attached to the front of their homes.
Thursday afternoon, homeowners raised the stakes by adding all of the Optimist Club flags in folks' front yards.
"Unfortunately, these flags violate the rules in two different ways," Gorshe said. "They’re not on one of the 23 designated days and they’re not attached to the house."
Homeowner Renita Gibson and her husband said they wouldn't think of not continuing the tradition with the Optimist Club.
"The Optimist flags were one of the deciding factors when we decided to build a house here," Gibson said. "We visited on Labor Day and all of the flags were out and it was beautiful."
11Alive reached out repeatedly to the HOA, but they have no comment on the flag restrictions.
For years, neighbors have displayed American flags on their homes and said they're not willing to remove them just because the threat of a fine.
"It is shameful to me," Gibson said. "My dad fought in Vietnam and died of service related injuries. Its not a decoration. It is not something just to put out a couple days a year. It stands for our freedom."
Tom Wilder, a Navy veteran, is also outraged.
"The HOA is treating it as a decoration and it is not. It is far more than a decoration to me," Wilder.
Neighbor Richard Tibbetts, an Army veteran, put it a little stronger: "I will remove the flag from my house when they remove my body from that house and cover it with the flag."