Back last fall on an especially blustery day, the stanchion of the flag on the front of our house was bent in two and the flag ended up on the ground. Since it was late in the flag-flying season for us, we bundled up the flag, brought it inside and decided to wait until spring to put it up again.
Over the years, I couldn’t say how many flags we have flown out there but it has been a tradition with us to put out our flag every Memorial Day and fly it regularly through the rest of the spring, summer, and good days of fall.
I think our American flag is one of the most striking flags there is and I know it was a feeling of absolute patriotism that had us flying it all through the pleasant months of the year. It always gave me a lift to see the stars and stripes fluttering in the breeze out there on nice sunny days and I missed it when we couldn’t fly it for whatever reason.
That’s why this year I feel particularly bad that I didn’t get a flag out there in time for Memorial Day last week. But with my husband gone and the complications of social distancing and avoiding contact with anyone who could replace the broken pole, the holiday crept past me.
I remember several years ago when my grandson Dillon was working toward becoming an Eagle Scout and my son Greg, his dad, was the scoutmaster of his troop. We were always thinking about flags in the days leading up to Memorial Day then.
For years my son made sure his local Boy Scout troops participated in placing flags on the graves of veterans in the two cemeteries in their town. It was a special project for the scouts, reminding them of a serious part of their history and giving them a sense of duty in distributing the flags on those graves. Then a few days later they would march in the town’s Memorial Day parade along with living veterans and carrying larger flags which made them feel proud of their country.
Of course, this year there was no parade on Memorial Day but my son is still involved with scouting. And although the local BSA council hadn’t sanctioned the replacement of flags on the graves this year, my son already had the flags. So, with everyone following proper social distancing rules, five families showed up to distribute the flags in the cemeteries with each troop member working with his father, or in one case, his mom, to get the job done.
Up in my hometown in the Berkshires, a 14-year-old boy proudly stood alone in the town’s cemetery and played “Taps” on his bugle while several feet away a bearded veteran displayed the colors. My daughter and her husband rode bicycles to their town’s Memorial Green where a lone bagpiper played in full regalia among a flotilla of small flags.
All over the country flags were flying, singly or in groups, to commemorate the day. And plenty of homebound folks flew their flags to honor our veterans.
There’s nothing quite so moving, though, as seeing the rows of grave markers in a military cemetery with the flags flying beside them all. Television never disappoints us with annual news shots of the ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery with the ranks of flags on all the graves. It’s a sight to stir the patriotism, and yes, sadness of the most cynical among us.
And even though Memorial Day has passed, never fear. Two weeks from today, on Sunday, June 14, we will be celebrating Flag Day, and yet another chance to fly Old Glory.
By then, I hope my handy son-in-law will have come and set up a new pole for my flag out front. So that when Flag Day arrives, I will once again be able to show my patriotism and have the pleasure of seeing that beautiful flag out there once again flying in the breeze.