JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Neighbors in one Southwest Jacksonville subdivision are at odds over Old Glory. It is turning into a flag firestorm and has tempers flaring.
The United States flag is being flown upside down by one homeowner in the neighborhood. The homeowner is not doing anything illegal, but that's not stopping others from speaking out.
William Farinas owns the home in question. He is proud of his years of Navy service.
"Tours ... the Gulf," Farinas began to explain. "Persian Gulf tour and then I did drug operations down (in) South America."
Though the wind was not blowing outside his home Wednesday morning, one could clearly see that he flies his U.S flag upside down.
Farinas argues it is a signal of distress.
"Are we in distress?" he asked. "I think so, because the government is just getting too powerful."
Farinas pointed to general areas of healthcare and the Internal Revenue Service.
"I've almost died for this flag," Farinas said as he looked at his flag, displayed upside down. "So, it means a lot to me. But, it means a lot to me also to fly it backwards when I see our government out of control."
One of his neighbors, Gary Surrency, said "I can respect the homeowner, but I can't respect his decision."
Surrency did not mince words about how he felt.
"I strongly disagree with it," he said.
Surrency has served for years in the Army and he displays his own flag ... right-side up.
"That's something I respect," he said, as he looked and pointed to his flag.
"If you've got a problem with it the way the country is going, there are other ways to do it," Surrency said, talking about his neighbor flying the flag upside down. "I think that is the wrong message to send in a close-knit military community."
This is not the first time First Coast News has tackled this issue. In November 2012, a Clay County man displayed a similar protest.
"I could understand that," Farinas said when talking about his disapproving neighbors. "I apologize for anybody I am offending, but, at the same time, if they can sit back and take a look and see things the way I've seen it."
Farinas said his flag will stay that way until he feels things "get better."
First For You, FCN checked with Jerry Lepore of the American Legion's Post 137 about flag etiquette. He is well-versed in etiquette of the flag.
Lepore said the flag should not be flown at night unless it is lit. He said the flag should not be flown in the rain. He adds the flag should also not be flown when tattered or torn. Lepore said it should be turned over to someone like the American Legion so it can be property disposed of in a flag burning ceremony.
First Coast News