UPDATE: Tyler Barge told TheBlaze on Friday that Riverwalk Apartments will allow him to leave his small American flag out on his patio.
“The apartment has agreed to allow the flag to remain on the patio! Riverwalk is owned by a Local Virgina based company. They were very apologetic about the whole issue and want it to be known they too support the US flag and what it stands for,” Barge wrote in an email to TheBlaze.
“I greatly appreciate all of the support that has been shown to myself and those we have lost fighting for freedom,” he added.
Tyler Barge describes himself as a proud military veteran. He was deployed to Afghanistan for nine months in 2011 where he served in the U.S. Army National Guard. He just returned home in March of 2012.
So, you can imagine his disgust when management at his apartment complex ordered him to remove the small American flag he had stuck into a pot of dirt on his patio.
“I like to keep a flag on display in honor of those who have died fighting for our freedom,” Barge, 22, told TheBlaze in an exclusive interview on Thursday. “I had the privilege of coming home and they didn’t. I try to do what I can to keep their memory alive.”
“I saw the flag flying in Afghanistan, it’d be nice to see it flying here too,” he added.
Barge said he received a notice from Riverwalk Apartments in Salem, Va. on Wednesday ordering him to remove the American flag, trash items, a broom and even a glass table from the patio.
“We need your help to keep our community one of the best in Salem! We need for you to remove the following items from your patio,” the notice read. It then listed the previously mentioned items. The notice went on:
Per our lease agreement we only allow the following times on your patio/balcony:
1. Patio furniture
2. Up to (3) working bicycles
The complex is giving Barge until Monday to remove the flag and other items.
As a veteran, Barge said he wanted to honor the flag, even if in a small way. He says he was well aware his lease prohibited him from hanging an American flag, so he opted to put out a small version of the flag in a pot of dirt instead. But the apartment complex is saying even that is unacceptable.
“Being a veteran and growing up with good patriotic parents, I’ve always had a flag out,” Barge told TheBlaze. “I didn’t think anything of it.”
Barge says he has served in the National Guard for nearly five years as an infantryman and is currently an E4 Specialist. He and 41 other soldiers from Virginia were deployed in June of 2011 to Uruzgan province in southern Afghanistan to provide security for a multinational provincial reconstruction team.
Given the fact that the complex has only given him until Monday to comply, Barge said his wife has been trying to get in touch with the property manager to work something out so they can leave the flag on the patio. However, the property manager, identified as Tristan Byrely by the apartment complex, was “unavailable” on Wednesday and again on Thursday.
Byrely was also unavailable when TheBlaze called the Riverwalk Apartments on Thursday.