Veteran wants bill for year-round flag-raising - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Veteran wants bill for year-round flag-raising

Harold Alejandro Harold Alejandro
Rida Cabanilla Rida Cabanilla
Tom Berg Tom Berg

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

EWA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Harold Alejandro fought nine months in Iraq and Kuwait between 2005 and 2006. In 2010 he's fighting another war outside his own home.

"A symbol that stands for freedom, yet you don't have the freedom to fly it in your home. It's sad," he said.

Alejandro wants to plant a flag pole and fly a bigger American flag at his house in Ewa.

But neighborhood rules forbid it.

"We don't look at it as a political issue," the retired US Air Force Master Sgt said. "We look at it as an issue to remember, respect and honor."

Alejandro was pinning his hopes on House bill 2311 that would compel community associations to allow homeowners to erect flag poles and fly large American flags outside their residences year-round with restrictions.

But the bill now appears to be dead in the wind.

"I'm not too sure how much power we have in making sure that the protocols in flying a flag will be followed or enforced," said Rep. Rida Cabanilla, D-42nd (Waipahu, Ewa).

She chairs the House Housing Committee. She recommended the bill be deferred, worrying flag etiquette might be ignored, like replacing tattered flags and shining a spotlight on flags that fly at night.

Bill supporters said the measure has built in safeguards for associations who already can cite a homeowner if things like gutter repairs are ignored.

"The flag, if were not being respected and not being held up in such a way, the association has the same means to do something about that flag or pole," said Ewa Beach Neighborhood Board member Tom Berg, who wrote the bill.

Alejandro served in the US Army and Air Force for 22 years.

The flags outside his home are small ones. He wants to make a bigger statement to honor today's troops and some of his former comrades who didn't make it back.

"Here I am lucky to go home and the only way they're going to go home is in a coffin," he said.

Cabanilla's a military veteran herself. She's in favor of flag flying but said the issue needs more discussion and isn't as simple as just making a law, putting up a flag, and watching it fly.

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