BYRON — The United States flag holds different meanings for many Americans, but for a 30-year military veteran in Byron the flag represents his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Dan DeRaspe, who retired as a master sergeant in the Army, resides next to Garland Pond in Byron and is upset over the recent construction of 22 wind turbines in neighboring Roxbury.
"I've been on Garland Pond since I was 14," DeRaspe said. "Now, instead of a view of the mountains, I have to stare at wind turbines."
DeRaspe, with permission from Record Hill Wind and Patriots Renewable LLC, erected American flags at the highest points on Spruce and Record Hill mountaintops. The Spruce Mountain flag was placed Sept. 10 and the Record Hill flag was placed on Oct. 1.
DeRaspe said if he is forced to look at wind turbines, he should be allowed to include something he truly respects.
The flag placed on Record Hill is DeRaspe's burial flag, which is reserved for any veteran who has served in a war. The pole is from a Douglas fir tree that was cut down during construction of the wind project and stands more 30 feet tall.
"This really goes against my pursuit of happiness," DeRaspe said. "I pay taxes in Byron and one of those taxes is a view tax because I live on the water. Now I have to pay to look at wind turbines."
A few Byron residents have attempted to ban wind towers over the past few years. DeRaspe belongs to the movement Byron Landowners Opposing Wind, aka BLOW.
The Record Hill project is in Roxbury but borders Byron and is visible from both Garland and Roxbury ponds.
DeRaspe said he's not 100 percent against wind power but believes the companies could have chosen land that didn't affect so many people who use the area and ponds year round.
"It affects so many people," DeRaspe said. "Win or lose in this debate isn't the point. I just wanted my voice to be heard and that flag represents a lot."