As an old-time liberal, I fully understand that the American flag— Old Glory, the Stars and Stripes, the Red, White and Blue—is a symbol of what our country stands for, and that’s why it’s important and why it inspires such an emotional response when we see it.
It’s not the colored piece of cloth, it’s what it represents that we respect and salute. But that respect is being eroded nowadays because of decisions to lower the flag to half-staff so frequently—for so many varied reasons—that nobody can be confident how it’s supposed to be displayed anymore.
It used to be that the flag was lowered to half-staff as a gesture of respect once a year, on the morning of Memorial Day, and other than that, only upon the death of very eminent public servants.
In the 21st century, however, the flag is hauled to half-staff every time you turn around.
Yes, it did seem a reflexive response after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001—although I’m not sure that it was done even after Pearl Harbor.
But now it’s become excessive.
It’s both confusing and demoralizing to see the Star Spangled Banner dipped because of mass murders, deceased ex-first ladies, foreign terror attacks, domestic terror attacks and for the tragic loss of each service member from our state— whether from combat in the endless imperial war or from accidental causes. And although it may not be popular or politically correct, I want to suggest that we, the people, decide to show our pride, determination, courage and national unity by reserving the gesture of flag-lowering for the traditional rare and ceremonial occasions.
In the face of terror and violence, I say let’s keep Old Glory flying at full height, where it belongs. Long may it wave, “o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave”—if that’s who and what we truly are.
Oliver Steinberg, St. Anthony Park