Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day, 2011

Another Memorial Day parade, another flag rescue. To the person who left their all-weather (thank goodness) American flag in the sewer grate – not just on the sidewalk or in the gutter but right in the sewer grate – I have a few words to say to you.  If you’re a toddler or a child who was given the flag and not reminded that it was not a toy, then this message is for your parents. If you’re a teen or an adult, this message is for you.

I’ll bet you spent a few bucks for that flag. Enough that it was weather-resistant, but not so much that it would keep you from buying it. Yet not enough to keep you from throwing it into the sewer, or letting your kid leave it there without picking it up. Maybe it was one of those car flags and you just couldn’t be bothered to stop and get it. The American flags spectators wave at parades and Fourth of July concerts are made too cheaply, and often come from China or some other country. This flag, though, was made in the U.S.A.

You only spent a few bucks for it, but there’s not enough money in the world to buy what that flag stands for or repay the blood of the soldiers, seaman, and airmen, the intelligence agents, and the merchant marines who died defending it. Leaving an American flag in the sewer like that is like leaving one of our military members there to die.

Did you have kids in tow? Were they cranky and you just didn’t feel like picking it up or giving them a lecture about properly respecting them? You just wanted to get home to the pool, did you? Get the barbecue started? Just sit in the air conditioning for awhile?

Well, many soldiers and sailors never got home at all. They died on some foreign battlefield and are buried in Normandy or in Japan or in Arlington Cemetery. Their families have a long way to go to put a flag on their graves. All you had to do was bend over and pick up that flag.  So I bent over and picked it instead. You got to sit under a shady tree with a bottle of water or something to watch the parade. Because I was late (my own fault), I had to walk from the end of the parade to the beginning and I was lucky to reach my band just in time to step off again. I did the parade twice. I was hot, tired, and thirsty, and my back ached.



However, I prepared my joints and (still holding onto my instrument and music) kneeled down and got that flag, already covered with debris, out of the sewer. I brought it home, cleaned it up and added it to my collection of rescued flags.   I’ll give you credit for buying the flag and coming to the parade to honor our armed forces. Next Memorial Day, just try to show a little more respect for the flag they died for and continue to die for.

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