It is a quiet evening; twilight is coming gently to the neighborhood.
I am sitting out front, sheltered from the passing traffic by two large crepe myrtles with limbs draping low toward green grass growing not near as fast as two weeks ago.
Next door, I watch as Oscar and Frances back out and head north on Arrow Avenue. Their last name is Robertson. I’ve told you that before.
But as I watch their dark blue SUV pull away, my eyes drift toward the Robertson’s flagpole. The breeze is unusual in that it is blowing from east to west.
Twilight is creeping in, but the red and white stripes, the blue sparkling with 50 white stars, is absolutely beautiful against a blue sky that will, in an hour, be purple.
Oscar flies his flag every day. Most days, I’ll stand at my fence and just look at it. If there’s no wind or breeze and the flag is limp, I don’t tarry. But if there’s a breeze, sometimes I do. And through my mind, there comes ...
“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t stand at attention or hold my hand over my heart or anything like that. I just hear in my mind those words I first learned as a seventh-grader. Every morning, once the bell rang, the first thing we did was stand, put our hands over our hearts, face the flag in the corner, and pledge allegiance.
Also, out front, three students raised the American flag just before the bell rang. Most afternoons, on our way to the buses and home, the last we saw was that flag. My guess is the principal took it down after we left.
I’m not sure they do that anymore, perhaps some do and some don’t.
Woodland High does. Mid-morning Wednesday a HUGE Old Glory all but covered the eastern skirts of town. In the tiny park near the school, 15 to 20 smaller flags all but say “This is us. We’re proud to be Americans.”
People in small towns, I sometimes think, have a sense of where we came from if not where we’re going. Life really does move at a slower pace and there’s time to savor one’s blessings, one’s heritage.
I’m getting a bit choked up here; maybe because I was raised outside a small town ... and, well, whatever ...
Then there is this.
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that students can not be compelled to honor the flag. To me it is a bit ironic that the court begins each session with the pledge of allegiance. ‘Course the U. S. Supremes can re-write the Constitution in more ways than Thomas Jefferson could dream.
A couple of other things:
1. Back when The Star was on West 10th Street, we flew the flag five days a week. A really nice guy we all called “Sarge” was our flag officer. He was retired military, is no longer of this earth, and I cannot recall his name ... Bill something I think. Another “whatever” is he was a really good guy and I liked him a lot. At our new plant on the hill, we don’t fly the flag.
2. Then there was the giant flag that covered half the hill in front of what is now a car dealership along about where Quintard meets South Quintard. It was a double beauty, but somewhere and sometime it vanished.
Oscar’s flag got me on this sermon a few months early. Our next “Flag Day” is June 14, 2014, and I’ll wish I had saved this for that ...
George Smith can be reached at 256-239-5286 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org