June 13, 2007
The flag’s raising and lowering was a regular part of my grandparents’ day when they lived “over the hill” at Pasatiempo, near Santa Cruz, in their retirement years. Granddad was a West Point grad and career army officer (retiring as a Colonel) and he took the handling of the flag very seriously, almost sacramentally. For him, it was really an icon for our country. At Pasatiempo they had a tall flagpole and it took a few minutes to properly raise the stars and stripes there. Granddad taught us kids how to raise and lower it, how never to let the flag touch the ground, to make sure it was away by sundown and how to fold and store it. The flag was to be treated reverentially. For him, every day was the right day to hang the flag. It symbolized to him everything good about the U.S.
Tomorrow, June 14th, is Flag Day – really the “birthday” of the flag as it’s the day that the US adopted the Betsy Ross flag as its own. This holiday only began to be celebrated in 1885 and only slowly morphed into a national holiday in 1949. Unfortunately, it’s not a federal holiday, so it’s not a “day off” for anyone, but it is a commemorative day. Displaying the flag is independent of politics or political affiliation (someone asked me a couple of years ago, cautiously, if putting out the flag meant she was a Republican – I assured her that this was not the case).
At my house in a quiet part of Los Gatos, we don’t put a flag out every day, but we do on national holidays and we certainly do it on Flag Day, and each time, it reminds me of my Granddad. Please join us and put out your flag!