Sitting On Flagpole Protocol
By Rep. Rida Cabanilla Arakawa
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First, let me state clearly: I strongly support flying the flag. I am proud to be an American and a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve. I support our soldiers and veterans. I honor their commitment to defending our country and for the sacrifices they all have made. I have a flag on my house and on my lapel.
But the issue before me was not about flying the American flag; it was about erecting large flagpoles in planned communities.
Should we force community associations to allow it? Should the Legislature override their covenant? If this measure passes, Planned Community Associations in the entire state will be subjected to this law. The question is: Is the Legislature ready to pass this law at this time, or can this be settled at the association level?
There are protocols for flying a flag on a flagpole, such as raising it at sunrise and retiring it at dusk. If it’s flown overnight, you are supposed to shine a spotlight on it all night. You must know when to fly the flag at full mast or half mast. It has to be in good condition all the time, not tattered. It must be flown with honor and dignity.
It is worth noting, however, that the Supreme Court upheld that it is constitutional to burn a flag as freedom of expression under the First Amendment. Will we stay friends with our neighbors if they decide to fly a half-burnt flag on their own private property?
Other things to consider: A commercial-size flag makes a lot of noise on a windy day. Will that spotlight pointing at the flag all night inconvenience your neighbor? If these protocols are not followed, can the association effectively enforce them?
Hundreds of thousands of people live in planned communities. There are PCAs not just on Oahu, but on Maui and the Big Island as well. As a matter of public policy, issues of this magnitude merit further discussion.
The legislative session is a time-certain event that moves rapidly. This matter should be discussed in the interim, perhaps with a task force comprised of PCA members, veterans and non-veterans alike, managing agents and members of the boards of directors. They may all agree that it is all right to erect a flagpole, but let us not blindside them. Let them come forward and say,“We are OK with it,” but let us not make that assumption.
If a compromise cannot be reached, then that is when we need legislation.
I strongly support flying the U.S. flag on flagpoles; I need to know that we will embrace the commitment that comes with it.
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