Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Mixed Emotions

Here's how it went down:

Yesterday, after the 6:30 AM feeding of The Lad, I decided to get an early start on the day's festivities by breaking out our flag and flying it from the front porch. But it wasn't where I usually keep it. It wasn't in any of our closets, or in the garage. It wasn't anywhere. It was at this point that The Feared Redhead reminded me that I had insisted on flying it on Memorial Day, since the rest of the day would not go as I had hoped. And I recall speciically that when I got home that night, I noted the empty flagpole and mentally kicked myself for forgetting to fly the flag. But I had not forgotten. Someone had stolen my flag on Memorial Day.

As soon as the realization hit me, I felt mad, and sad, and stupid, but mostly sad.

I felt stupid because it had taken me this long to realize it was stolen. To be fair to myself, there was only one flag holiday between the two days (Flag Day), and the hecticness of life had prevented me from even trying to fly it that day. I'm ashamed to admit that, I was just getting used to owning a flag and living in a place where I could fly it.

I felt mad, because someone had stolen a flag that I had purchased with my own hard-rearned money, and had gone to the trouble of flying as a sign of patriotism, as well as out of respect for my father and grandfather.

But mostly, I was sad. It broke my heart, really. I'm not sure which would be worse -- if the thief had no regard whatsoever for what he was stealing, and was just being a petty thief, or if the person understood fully the significance of their act and was intentionally desecrating what was for me a precious symbol of freedom and patriotism. In some ways, the latter, while more outrageous, would be less tragic. If old glory has so faded in people's esteem that it's not big deal to steal it, how far have we sunk from the days when Barbara Fritchie's sentiments rang true with all of us? I fear that my own slow realization gives credence to this possibility.

On the other hand, given the other incidents I've encountered in this community, I wouldn't put it past someone from around here to have fully recognized the importance of the flag and all it symbolizes, and to have stolen it out of sheer spite and hatred of it.

Of course, you KNOW what the first thing I did was, don't you?

The new flag flew proudly for the rest of the day.