Date: August 26, 2009
Byline: John Gavin
Veteran flies flag high and upside down
Display offends neighbor
YUCCA MESA — It’s saluted, it’s pledged to and sometimes it’s burned as a means of political dissent — and in Yucca Mesa, the display of the American flag has created a neighborhood controversy.
In late July, the Hi-Desert Star received an e-mail from Steve Colberg complaining that his neighbor has been flying his American flag upside down. “This is very disrespectful as I am a former Marine living in what used to be a military town,” he wrote.
In a telephone interview Monday, Colberg said he served four years in the Marine Corps, from 1983 to 1987. He moved to Yucca Valley a few years ago and works with a light source company in the lower desert.
Colberg said his neighbor’s display of the flag is further offensive to him because it is tattered and not lit at night.
“I want it taken down and flown right,” he declared.
The flag in question is the property of Yucca Valley business owner Bill Allen. A longtime resident of the Morongo Basin, Allen at one time was a writer for a local paper, the Intrepid Reporter, and had two radio programs and a television program, “The Community Hour.”
Like Colberg, Allen has a history of military service. A carpenter and builder in the Navy’s Construction Battalions from 1963 to 1965, he served in Vietnam, helping to build a Marine base at Da Nang.
The affable Allen said he has been flying the flag upside down since the Carter administration. He believes the U.S. has been moving toward socialism since then and the election of Barack Obama has rocketed the country further toward that end.
Allen tirelessly promotes the reading of the U.S. Constitution and will gladly hand visitors a copy of the Constitution at his place of business. He flies his flag as he does because under the Flag Code, Allen said, the flag should be flown upside down only in instances of dire distress and extreme danger to life or property. He believes America is in that situation right now.
“People don’t see the demise of the American worker and the demise of the economy because they have jobs and think everything is OK,” Allen said.
His dispute with Colberg isn’t the first time his flag has caused controversy. In 1992, he said, sheriff’s department personnel arrived at his property and told him he had to fly the flag correctly. Allen promptly showed the deputies his copy of the Flag Code and the deputies left.
A few years ago, a neighbor’s visitor confronted Allen about his flag, giving Allen the opportunity to explain his reasoning.
He maintains a Web site, fundamentalpress.com, which includes an explanation of why he hoists the flag upside down.
He has red, white and blue flyers featuring the explanation: “As a result of the many traitors and enemies we as a free people have, both foreign and domestic, as a result of the many unconstitutional acts and legislation passed and/or committed against U.S. citizens and their life, liberty and property, and as a result of policies that have allowed ... enemies of this nation to enter in large numbers through a porous border policy, I believe the life, liberty and property of U.S. citizens are in dire danger.”
Allen believes students should read and discuss the Constitution in every grade and promotes that goal by handing out copies of the Constitution. He’s even been known to forgive a bill if the customer agreed to read the Constitution and return to discuss it with him.
Allen is thinking of putting up a sign in his business, next to “Watch dog on duty,” that states, “Politics spoken here.”
“The government is broken,” Allen said. “There is only one force that can defeat the American fighting man and that is the U.S. government.”
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