Northern Va. HOA Protests Man's Van With Patriotic Tribute - NBC4 Washington

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Northern Va. HOA Protests Man's Van With Patriotic Tribute

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    A man who coverred his van in patriotic images to honor service members -- including his brother, who died after he was wounded in Vietnam -- is being told his tribute is not welcome in his neighborhood. News4's Kristin Wright reports. (Published Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015)

    Alan Bennett's brother was wounded in the Vietnam War, and later died. Since then Bennett has dedicated his life to the non-profit "Wreaths Across America," laying wreaths at the graves of service members nationwide.

    In an effort to display his commitment and tribute to the troops, Bennett had his van covered in patriotic images, including a photo of his brother, Kim. 

    "The decision was made to do this because of our commitment to Wreaths Across America," Bennett said.

    Bennett's Homeowners Association (HOA) in the Lake Ridge neighborhood of Prince William County in Northern Virginia sent him a letter earlier this month, asking him to "remove the commercial vehicle from Lake Ridge entirely," adding that "commercial vehicles are not permitted."

    "It has nothing to do with Wreaths Across America," said the HOA 's general manager, Ron Pereira. "It has to do with whether or not you can have a vehicle with signage or pictures ... There is no distinction for nonprofit or religious organizations."

    He said Bennett doesn't have to remove the van, but has to cover it up with a tarp. He also said the association has not received any complaints from neighbors.

    "Every time I turn onto the street, I'm very proud of the fact that I see that van," one neighbor said.

    "Classifying it as a commercial vehicle is a little ridiculous," another neighbor said.

    Bennett said for him, the message is simple.

    "I want everybody to remember our fallen," he said.