11 August 2012


I went to the post office the other day to buy stamps and mail a snail-mail letter!  (Wait for gasps and shudders to subside.)  I noted the the national colors were at half-mast.

"Who died," I asked. The clerk at the counter gave me a puzzled look.  "Why is the flag at half-mast?"

He didn't know, but actually went back to check.  "It just came in this morning," he said.  "The President ordered all flags to be at half-staff (sic) until Friday for the Sikh shooting."

I have nothing against the Sikhs, or the movie-goers in Colorado, or the people at Virginia Tech, but why not just permanently fly the flag at half-mast if we're going to dilute this time-honored tribute to nothingness.  I remember when flying the flag at half-mast was a rarity, reserved for those special instances when the entire nation, or a part of it, was actively mourning.  The national colors were so flown only in the case of the death of a President, a Senator (in his home State), a Congressman (in his home district), a justice of the Supreme Court, or some other national figure. And, of course, the flag at a national cemetery was half-masted during the actual interment of a deceased member of the Armed Forces, or a deceased veteran.

In other words, this honor was reserved for someone who actively did something more for the Nation than going to church, or to a movie, or to class.  I chalk up  this dilution to two factors:  our elected leaders are willing to render meaningless what once was a real honor, all for a political benefit, and our schools no longer teach American History and Civics in any recognizable form.

I wonder how many of the Sikhs and the movie-goers (other than the members of the armed forces) ever rendered appropriate honors to that same flag while they were alive?  Just wonderin'.

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