Manuel E. Vega, a Marine Corps veteran who served three combat tours in Iraq, says he faces possible eviction from his apartment if he does not remove two flags – one U.S. flag and one Marine Corps flag — from his balcony. The Salem Run Apartment Homes in Fredericksburg, Va., initially warned Vega about the flags, then said they would be willing to work something out, but, Vega told this writer Thursday, nothing has been done and the complex has not backed down.
Vega said he has been flying the flags since October, but apartment managers recently decided to take action.
A notice warning Vega of the flags was tacked to his front door, he said.
“Although we appreciate and commend your patriotism, as a reminder per your lease agreement, you cannot have anything attached to the railing or any part of the building,” the warning letter, dated March 21, said.
The letter also says that only patio furniture, “flowers and/or holiday decorations” are the only things allowed on the balcony.
Vega said the letter came after a recent inspection by a regional manager with Grady Management, the company that oversees the complex.
“They told me if I do not comply they will send a legal letter asking me to comply and then a court ordered eviction notice,” he said. “That’s what could happen.”
Apartment managers he spoke to were not mean or threatening, he added, but they told him they would follow orders from higher up.
Making matters worse, Vega said that other apartments have wind chimes and plants on their balconies. It is unknown if tenants in those apartments were similarly warned. Vega said managers were also uncertain if those apartments had received warnings.
The apartment complex refused to answer our inquiries and promised to direct us to upper management. So far, no one has returned our calls.
After we spoke to the apartment complex, Vega said he received what seemed to be promising news.
“I just called them and they told me that they are aware of my complaint and are working with corporate management to see if we can resolve the issue of the flags,” he said Wednesday. “They told me to be patient.”
But nothing has been done so far, Vega said Thursday.
Despite the possibility that he might be evicted, Vega said he will not back down.
“So,” he added, “they told me to take the flags down per the lease agreement and I respectfully told them no. Independence Day is not only on Fourth of July. Memorial Day is everyday in remembrance of our fallen and Veterans Day as well for I will honor all troops past and present and I will never cease to.”
“I will take no other alternative,” he added. “The flags will stay where they are at.”
Vega served over eight years in the Marine Corps and rose to the rank of Sergeant, having received a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Citation and a Good Conduct Medal.
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