By Christina Hager

CHELMSFORD (CBS) – “We’re very grateful,” said Jon Crandall, who created a display with 200 American flags in front of his office.

We first met Crandall when Chelmsford town officials demanded he scale back what they called an “excessive” flag display, saying it violated a town bylaw. “It was to prevent the use of the flag for advertising purposes,” said Town Manager Paul Cohen.

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Flags on display outside Laer Realty in Chelmsford (WBZ-TV)

That story prompted a public outcry. Supporters added more flags to the display, bringing the total to 700. “People have come out of the woodwork to plant them, and they’re telling us their personal stories,” said Crandall. “I have two mass cards of two brothers who served in World War II.”

Mail poured into the Laer Realty office. “This gentleman spoke of his fight when he was in Vietnam,” said Crandall, holding up an envelope. “The outpouring of support is amazing.”

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Jon Crandall reads mass cards left on flags outside his office (WBZ-TV)

It was enough to make the Town Manager have a change of heart. The flags are now allowed, after all.

“The intent wasn’t to be anti-patriotic or anti-American, but clearly there’s a tremendous love of this country demonstrated with the American flag, and I think we’re all better for it in the end,” Cohen said.

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He plans to propose a change in the bylaw at the next town meeting this fall, so no one else will ever have to fight this fight again.

Christina Hager