A tavern in Huntington Beach, Calif., is a popular hangout among locals. Even those who have never walked through its doors, however, are likely familiar with a sign proudly posted on its roof that urges passersby to “Thank a veteran for your freedom!”
The sign was erected more than 30 years ago, according to the owners of Johnny’s Saloon, and serves as a reminder of military sacrifice and courage. While the general public has been overwhelmingly supportive of the sign, city officials apparently want it taken down.
According to social media reports, the bar recently received a notice that it must remove the sign within two days or face penalties. Owners expressed their outrage that, after more than three decades, they were being forced to comply with this demand within 48 hours.
The bar’s Facebook page included one post that inquired rhetorically wondered who would complain about a “sign that has been spreading a positive message,” adding the ordeal represents “the kinds of actions that kill small business in America!”
Nevertheless, the business plans to fight the order and owners plan to pay the nearly $1,000 fine to keep the sign up – for now.
Fortunately, Johnny’s loyal customers and local patriots are joining together to make sure the sign remains in its current location. Numerous supporters expressed their opinion on Facebook, including one individual who cited the many charitable causes supported by the bar’s owners.
The same commenter noted locals can “walk and drive down Beach Boulevard and see this glorious tribute,” adding city officials want to remove “the very sign that unites this community together, and truly allows us to stand as one.”
Though Huntington Beach staff sent the demand to the bar, at least one high-ranking public servant seems to be on the side of Johnny’s Tavern. Reports indicate Mayor Pro Tem Matthew Harper is in favor of granting the bar an exemption to the ordinance.
The debate is far from over, as supporters of the bar plan to appear at an upcoming city council meeting and are already collecting donations to help offset the fines accruing against its owners.
Targeting a bar for putting up a sign more than 30 years ago is bad enough, many feel; and the fact that the sign was in support of American troops adds to the public outrage. Johnny’s Tavern appears to have public sentiment on its side which, if parlayed effectively, could ensure the sign remains for generations to come.
–B. Christopher Agee