Happy Memorial Day: NC town says store's US flag is just too big

How is it possible to have an American flag that’s too large, you might ask? Especially on a national holiday honoring the too many who’ve given their lives for it. Have you ever seen the flags that cover most of a football field and require dozens of military to hold it up?

Well, the town elders of Statesville, N.C. have informed the owner of the local Camping World outlet that, patriotic displays aside, its 40 x 80 foot American flag is too large to fly there.

That kind of flag is a familiar and striking sight waving above most outlets of the nation’s largest RV dealer. But Statesville maintains it has an ordinance that won’t allow display of U.S. flags larger than 25 x 40 feet, a special enlarged exemption just for the retailer.

Now after four years of a running dispute, the town is suing Camping World Gander Outdoors, a NASCAR sponsor, seeking a fine of $50 a day back to mid-October. That’s when some town council members tried to amend the local ordinance to permit Camping World’s large U.S. flag. But the motion lost 5-3.

Camping World’s owner suggests the town leaders find a flagpole and sit on it. The owner is Marcus Lemonis, a billionaire businessman and host of CNBC’s most popular reality TV show “The Profit.”

In that show Lemonis makes the owners of troubled businesses a generous offer they can’t refuse in return for an ownership share and total management control to right the ship.

Lemonis was an orphan in war-torn Beirut, Lebanon when he was adopted at nine months by a Miami couple. They weren’t rich. They all are now.

Remember Michael Corleone in the second Godfather movie? “Senator, you can have my reply now.”

Here’s Lemonis’ reply:

This is about more than just the flag. This is about our Veterans, Military, and the men and women that have sacrificed for this great country. They are the reason we fly the flag and they are the reason we will NOT take it down!

The town claims the flag is too close to an Interstate. Its stubborn stance seems surprising in a state like North Carolina which has such a large population of both active and retired military.

“My family has been car dealers, had been car dealers since the 1960s,” Lemonis adds. “And our key trademark was always flying our flag in our dealership in south Florida. My family is largely immigrants of the country.”

An online support petition was started here to support Lemonis’ flag fight, seeking 150,000 signatures. It’s already passed 80 percent of the way.

He said such large national symbols fly over some 200 of his stores across the country, including several in North Carolina without such legal challenges.

And in case there’s any doubt about his stand on the large American flag in Statesville, N.C., Lemonis says:

“We will not be taking the flag down under any circumstances. Zero. None. Never going to happen.” Later adding, “You can make the fine $500 a day, $1,000 a day, $5,000 a day. I’ll just pay it. It’s that important to me.”

Over this three-day holiday, Lemonis’ flag fine will grow by $150.