Memorial Day: where were the flags?
By: Greg Halvorson
Now that President Obama is back from Chicago, fresh from declaring June, 2010, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender month, Iâ€™d like to memorialize Memorial Day. Itâ€™s not dead (yet), but like other American traditions (marriage, a strong military), itâ€™s dying, and a genuine symptom is the absence of the flag.
In the last month, weâ€™ve seen Old Glory banned from apartments, offend Mexicans in our schools, and disgust teachers who believe it should be censored. We had a president hold a press conference – the first of its kind? – without a flag (or a clue.)
On Memorial Day, I figured this would stop. In honor of those who perished defending Freedom, citizens would fly the flag. Though, I live in Portland, Oregon, in a county (Multnomah) that broke 77% for Obama, on Memorial Day pride would trump politics. The banner would shine!
I was wrong. In this working-class neighborhood, it was just another day. Up and down my block, among forty-three houses, two, including mine, displayed the flag. The next block presented zero. The next block, one.
This is what happens to a country without leaders. The historical covenant isnâ€™t shared. The freest nation in history has a problem when its president bows to despots, promotes â€œbondsâ€ over borders, and claims â€œexceptionalismâ€ is relative.
America is exceptional. And since real history lies in the ground, I drove to Fort Lewis to pay my respects. Along the way, I passed hundreds of houses, the pattern similar to the one Iâ€™d departed.
Forty housesâ€”flagâ€¦. Fifty housesâ€”flag.
I didnâ€™t dwell on an island, the apathy was real. â€œHo humâ€ had replaced â€œgung ho.â€
But I did discover flags. The tradition of honoring the battle-weary by painstakingly planting a tiny stick with a tiny attached banner above their resting place is redemptive, and I recognized promise. I made a point of walking past the stones, to nod and read the names.
But then I came to a row lacking names, markers whose bodies werenâ€™t identified. Known but to God, these men died for Freedom. What would they say to the flagless, I wondered. What would the flagless say to them?
Later that night, I caught a glimpse of the moon. Itâ€™s largely unknown, but thereâ€™s a flag up there.
Greg Halvorson is the founder of Soldiers Without Boots, and hosts Freedom Warrior Radio on Blog Talk Radio.