A Virginia man who thought he could boost morale during the pandemic was ordered to remove American flags he put on utility poles.
Greg Neiss took it upon himself to put American flags on utility poles up and down his street in Manassas.
“Before you know it, people were dropping money in my mailbox so I could go buy some flags,” he said.
Neiss put up more than a dozen flags before the city told him to stop and take them down.
The Marine Corps veteran wrestled with the order before complying.
“A bunch of neighbors came out and showed their support for keeping them,” Neiss said.
Neighbor James Conroy, an Army veteran, said Old Glory flying in the midst of a national crisis brings back the emotions of seeing the stars and stripes when he served in Vietnam.
“You look at it, and there’s hope,” he said. “There’s hope in that flag.”
Many flags fly on utility poles throughout downtown Manassas, but that’s a city-run program.
“We can’t control any content,” city manager Pat Pate said. “For citizens to put anything on poles means that we would have to allow any content to go on the poles, and the city doesn’t allow that.”
Pate says there may be a solution.
“We have things like adopt-a-park program, adopt-a-street program,” Pate said. “We could potentially have some similar type of program where people could pay for flags to be flown in other areas in the city.”
City council members like Theresa Ellis are willing to listen.
“We started looking at all the poles and let’s see if we can make something work,” she said.
Neiss it’s a good start on the road to a potential compromise where everyone comes out satisfied and neighborhood bonds get stronger, which was the entire point.
“It’s just a way to bring the community together, that’s all my goal was to do, and bring joy to our neighborhood,” he said.
Neiss and his neighbors are expected to address the council Monday night. A decision isn’t expected but they’re hopeful this can be the first step in reaching a middle ground.