Johnny Brann, the owner of several “Brann’s” restaurants in Michigan, has recently gotten into a clash over several “fallen soldiers” banners hanging outside of his restaurant located in Grand Rapids. Each flag features the picture of a serviceman who had been killed in the line of duty, with a commemorative plaque going with each flag. The flags celebrate each fallen soldier with the words “American Hero.” These are not just any soldiers, however; they are men who had a personal relationship to Brann’s restaurant and to the city. The flags had formerly been located on top of the building, though about five years prior to the complaint filed against his business they were relocated to the side of the restaurant. Brann was served with a notice that he was in violation of a city ordinance and that he had to take down all of the flags from the sides of his building.

The complaint was filed by an anonymous member of the community, which explains the sudden show of interest in Brann’s flags from the community. Brann has made it clear that he has no intentions of removing the flags. Instead, he intends to file an appeal with the city, an appeal that has overwhelming public support. Several organizations, such as Back the Badge, have shown immense support for Brann. Amy Waltrop, a member of the organization, has said that honoring fallen heroes is far more important than some city ordinances. Many of Brann’s supporters do not understand the timing of the complaint. After all, the flags had been flying for 5 years before anyone lodged a complaint regarding them. One of the flags honors Army specialist Eric Burri, whose father John is one of Brann’s vocal supporters. He wondered out loud about the point of the complaint, given that the flags had been displayed at the restaurant for a long time.

Many supporters also argue that since the restaurant is owned by Brann, he ought to have the right to do what he wants to do with his property. This is a free control, after all, they say, so why should someone be allowed to force him to alter his property by taking down the flags? Brann’s resolve has remained unshaken throughout this ordeal. Rather than weakening or making concessions, Brann has made it known that he will absolutely not take down the flags. He claims that since he made a commitment to honoring fallen heroes with the flags, to take them down would be to let down their families. Ultimately, Brann firmly believes that keeping the flags up is the right thing to do. As of yet, the flags are still up, and it is unclear what will come of Brann’s appeal.