Show pride and patriotism today, July 4

If you are looking for a nice display of American flags for the 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 innumerable rules so many towns have restricting what property owners can do with their property. A notice was left 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 media as well as many individuals using social media, picked right up on it. It was one of those “town 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 embarrassed. 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.

No one in the Chelmsford mini-bureaucracy 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.