Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Forgotten Flag

Forgotten Flag
(by R.P.Edwards)

Wafting wordless warnings
Treated, as a rag
And I wonder as I watch
This dying from neglect
If “it” reflects our nation
Our dying…from…forget

It’s an indicator.  A sign of direction, and strength.  One way means headwind…and struggle.  The other way means tailwind…and ease.  And, I suppose, I really don’t need the flag to tell me what’s coming, for I must go, regardless.  But there’s a steeling with the knowledge; a tightening of the innards and the will when you know of coming opposition.  And, for this, I am grateful for the heads up.  Grateful to the old, tattered banner; the graying stars and stripes; dying…from neglect.

You know, I suppose it’s been there for years.  Unassuming, unpretentious, simple of display, silent in testimony; and I, literally thousands of times over these past fifteen years, have gone by without recognition.  That is, until recently.  You see, this flag used to be a footnote to a larger establishment; an eatery; a diner that serviced the downtown area and, in particular, the largest employer in the region; a steel mill whose parent resides in Pittsburgh.  Yes, this “almost landmark” fed generations but, for whatever reason, the property changed hands. And, in a day, it was gone.  And, it was the absence that caught my attention.  For, as I scanned the empty--as if nothing had ever been there--space, I eventually saw the rusty pole, and the tattered flag, wafting unattended…and alone.

As is always the case, this time of year--the transition from spring to summer--is the time for flags.  Memorial Day on one end, and the glorious Fourth on the other and, in the middle…Flag Day.  It’s a time for parades, and solemn assemblies, and jubilant celebrations and, as is always the case, some, many, will view the flag with indifference bordering on disdain, and others will view it through tears born of great loss, and great gain.  Yes, it’s a time for flags. 

Now, I suppose, years ago when the burden of liberty was borne by most--for most had lost someone to it’s cause--I suppose back then there was a kind of reverence attached to the symbol.  Some, associating the red with patriots blood, would swell with emotion at it’s waving, and others, with eyes aloft and lungs full of freedom’s breath; would see the stars of liberty on a field of blue, and these, too, could not restrain their sentiment.  But now, with so few knowing of the owing, the flags are often neglected, ignored.  And, this lone, dying memorial; well, it has become a testament of what we have become.  And, please understand, I don’t begrudge the steel giant, the owner of the land, for the fabrics neglect.  For, it goes without saying that patriotism and love of country have little or no place at corporate tables.  And certainly, in these lean years, it would be almost too much to expect that executive eyes pause, for just a moment, from their constant pursuit of advantage.  But, it would be nice if an exception, just this once, was made.

So, as Flag Day quickly approaches, perhaps a Gold Star Mother; one who has lost a son or daughter in the service of their country; perhaps they’ll see…and whisper a word.  Or, perhaps a wounded vet, imprisoned in a body sacrificed on the alter of vigilance; perhaps he or she…will utter a plea.  Or, perhaps, and heaven forbid, perhaps the Plant Manager will pass by…and remember a flag draped coffin of a loved one.  Then, with a simple call to the American Legion, or a Boy Scout troop; then perhaps this old, tired soldier can finally be laid to rest.  But, in the meantime, this frayed, forgotten flag, shows me direction; the direction of the wind…and the direction of …the country.

That’s what I think.  How about you?  Click comments below…and say.

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