The owner of the shopping center that's home to Glendale Heights VFW Post 2377 will not order the post to take down its American flag, said a company official who labeled the controversy that erupted over the flag last week a misunderstanding.
Members of Post 2377 grew upset last week when they received a letter from Midland Realty of Oakbrook Terrace about various property maintenance issues. One of the statements in the letter seemed to say that flags, including the American flag that flies on a pole in front of the post, were prohibited on the property, members said.
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But Midland Realty principal Charles Hold said Sunday that the flags mentioned in the letter are large type often seen on used car lots, not standard American flags.
"The letter used some stock language about what's generally allowed on the property; it never specifically referenced their American flag," Hold said. "We never told them they had to take their flag down. We wouldn't do something like that."
Hold acknowledged that the letter was not as precisely worded as it should have been. He also criticized the post for contacting the media before talking the matter over with the manager of the property.
"That turned this into something of a media circus," he said.
Terry House, commander of Post 2377, said Sunday evening that he hadn't yet heard from Midland about the flag, but he is looking forward to resolving the issue once and for all.
"We'll be very happy to talk this out with Midland," he said, adding that post members started speaking to local media because they felt the company wasn't interested in discussing the matter. "Look, we're just a group of local veterans. We don't do anything wrong here. And we're not trying to antagonize Midland. We want to fix this."
Post 2377 is located in the Hilltop Shopping Plaza on Army Trail Road. Quartermaster John Kowalczyk said the majority of the post's members are veterans of the Vietnam War, with veterans of other conflicts represented as well.
"We even have some World War II veterans, and there aren't many of those guys left," he said. "It's a great group, and this is like home for all of us."
The post has existed in Glendale Heights for 50 years, roughly 22 of those in the Army Trail Road site. Midland bought the shopping center last year and is in the process of renovating it.
On Sunday morning, roughly 50 people braved the cold to gather in front of Post 2377 as a gesture of support. The crowd included Post members and friends, as well as veterans and supporters from all over the suburbs. Many expressed disbelief and anger at the possibility that the post would have to take its flag down.
"They fought for us," Sandy Schweikle of Glendale Heights said. "How could anyone say they can't fly a flag here?"
Hold said Midland plans to send a letter to the post on Monday clarifying the situation.