TURLOCK -- Donnell Bak hasn't given up on the idea of requiring every business and nonprofit organization in Stanislaus County to fly the U.S. flag. But the 62-year-old Turlock man is expanding his quest and hopes his new effort meets with more success:
Bak is asking each city to set aside a street to fly the flag on holidays.
"The original mission is exactly the same," said Bak, who a few weeks ago asked the county Board of Supervisors to consider a law making it mandatory to fly the flag. He wants to honor serv- ice members who have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Under Bak's new plan, each city would designate a street for the flags. People could buy flags in honor of service members, whose names would be embroidered on them. Teams of volunteers would be responsible for setting up the flags and taking them down on each state and federal holiday.
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Only Hughson has responded with interest. The City Council heard a presentation from Bak last week.
Hughson already has 42 flag holders in place on Main Street, but Bak said his group would be willing to supplement that. "The more (flags), the better," Councilman Thom Crowder said.
Council members asked for the matter to return as an action item and will consider action at the next regular meeting.
Bak also is working on bringing banners to each city; letters to service members would be affixed to the banners before they are sent to Afghanistan. He said he's putting together a board of directors and filing the necessary forms to establish a nonprofit organization.
The military veteran started his project by collecting about 600 signatures on a letter asking the Board of Supervisors to pass the law "To give respect to the American Soldiers now serving in war in foreign countries and the fallen soldiers who have died, recently in Iraq, and Afghanistan."
The board didn't act on his request, referring the matter to the county attorney. Bak knew it was an uphill battle; some would say his proposal violated the First Amendment right to free speech. But he wanted to get a conversation started about the issue. And he's still out there, talking.
He said he's encountered resistance to his idea, but he's undaunted.
"Quite a few of the businesses that I have talked to say they don't want anybody to tell them what to do," Bak said. But he's gotten positive response from others, including a military moms group in Tracy and a funeral home in Modesto.
Effort overall 'very positive'
Bak said his group will send more letters this week, with cost estimates for the flags and a plan for displaying them. He hopes to follow that with presentations in Newman and Waterford.
Overall, he said, the undertaking has been "very positive." Despite some setbacks -- a fall at his home this week, the theft of two flags off his front porch -- he's going to stick to his mission.
"I haven't switched gears at all."
For more information, write the Fly the Flag Committee at P.O. Box 2357, Ceres 95307 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.