NORTH PORT, Fla. - No more "rocket's red glare" or "bombs bursting in air?" Residents are fuming in the La Casa community near Warm Mineral Springs. They say their freedom of speech...and songs are being silenced.
"Who says that we can not sing the National Anthem? Nobody has the right to tell us that," Patricia Sheppard said.
She and her husband "Shep" Sheppard say this time, the La Casa Activity Board has gone too far. "I'm proud to live in this community," Patricia said. "This is an embarrassment to the people in this community."
In the July-August newsletter, Board Presiden Clint Van Tassell wrote that bands performing, "for instance, at the end of a dance, are not to perform the "Star-Spangled Banner' or 'O Canada.'" Instead, they "are requested to use 'God Bless America'. It is the feeling of the board that this covers all of the Americas adequately."
"The Canadians, they put their money into our economy here in North Port," Patricia said. "They're fine. They're wonderful. It's out of respect, we should be able to sing our National Anthem, we should be able to sing their National Anthem."
About 15% of the residents at La Casa are Canadian. But when some American residents heard "O Canada" at social events, they took offense. Van Tassell would not go on camera, but says this whole thing has been blown out of proportion. He says it is simply a "request" not a "demand," and at a later meeting, clarified that patriotic holidays should have patriotic music such as the "Star-Spangled Banner."
Still, the Sheppards say the damage has been done. "This is not the way we are in La Casa," Patricia said. "This is an opinion of few and definitely not the majority."
Patricia Sheppard says she plans to bring her concerns to the next H.O.A. meeting if this hasn't been settled or the board hasn't apologized.
You can read more in today's edition of the Charlotte Sun at http://sunnewspapers.net/articles/tsnews.aspx?ArticleID=459663&pubdate=7/8/2010