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Flags fly high at Eagle Crest; one sparks debate


Two flag displays in the Eagle Crest neighborhood west of Redmond have people talking. You might look at them and say one is patriotic and the other is not. But others might say it comes down to your views on how to express your First Amendment rights.

This Labor Day, some residents let the fruits of their patriotic labor fly in the form of a new display of 60 American flags.

“We’re getting thumbs up all around. People are so impressed with what’s happening on the street,” said Gary Brooks, who helped work out the logistics, like the distance between flags and digging holes into the rocky ground.

Every single home on Ironstone Court donated more than $100 to put the flags up.

“Everybody pitched in, and it was difficult work getting through this rock,” said Michael Victor, one of the people behind the project.

But down the road, another home is turning heads for its flag, too. Since July, David and Connie Soballe have been flying their American flag upside-down.

“It’s not an attempt to disrespect the country or the flag,” David Soballe said.

Technically, when a flag flies union upside-down, it means a country is in distress — and the Soballes believe the United States is in distress.

“What got us going here particularly, specifically, was that young children — most of them under the age of 10 and a large percentage under the age of 5 — were being ripped away from their parents,” David Soballe said, referring to the family separations that have sparked debate and protests.

Connie Soballe added, “We put up the flag (upside down) to say we feel like this is wrong, and we can’t as Americans just sit by and let it happen, because to just say nothing is to be complicit.”

On Tuesday, their flag will be upside-down once again. But patriotic holidays are different.

“On days that are special, like today that’s in support of American labor, we fly it the normal way, as we did during John McCain’s funeral and we will on other holidays,” David Soballe said.

Back on Ironstone Court, they don’t see it that way.

“Using that type of protest is very inappropriate,” Victor said. “The flag is a living thing. It’s a symbol of our democracy.”

“This is a bipartisan patriotic event for us– not political,” Brooks said. “The flag and the national anthem should not be part of politics.”

The Soballes said they both have a military background and stressed that hanging their flag upside-down is not meant to upset anyone.

Connie said a Vietnam veteran stopped by their home to ask about the flag, and she explained why she and her husband choose to fly it upside-down.

“At the end of (the conversation), he said, ‘Well, you’re right to do that. That’s why I fought in Vietnam.’ He said, ‘I don’t like it,’ and we shook hands and introduced (ourselves to) each other,” Connie Soballe said, “That’s what we should be doing — not worrying about how I fly my flag, but you know, just talking.”

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