Even during this time of a world wide pandemic, it makes sense that we pause to remember these heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Memorial Day this year comes on Monday, May 25. This is a day that is set aside for us to remember those members of the military killed in battle. Even during this time of a world wide pandemic, it makes sense that we pause to remember these heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. I have never served in the military but I have a great deal of respect for those, past present and future, who have. If you are reading this column right now and you are a military veteran, let me say a big thank you for your service. We don’t say it enough to all of you who have served.
A great symbol of the USA
The upcoming Memorial Day also makes me think about the American flag. It is a great symbol of the USA (red, white and blue) waving on flag poles all over this nation. Every time I pass a flag pole and see that flag waving in the breeze, I smile. However, there are times when I gaze up at the flags and the view is not pleasant. Why? Many of the US flags that are flown are tattered and torn. They have been ignored by their owners and I feel it has somehow diminished what that great flag stands for.
Some of you know that I love vintage country music. One of my favorite artists was the great Johnny Cash. In 1974 he recorded a recitation called “Ragged Old Flag:”
I walked through a county courthouse square
On a park bench an old man was sitting there
I said, your old courthouse is kind of run down
He said, naw, it’ll do for our little town
I said, your old flagpole has leaned a little bit
And that’s a ragged old flag you got hanging on it
He said, have a seat, and I sat down
Is this the first time you’ve been to our little town?
I said, I think it is
He said, I don’t like to brag
But we’re kind of proud of that ragged old flag.
(Ragged Old Flag, Written by Johnny Cash, 1974)
Cash’s word continues to tell the story of that flag and where it has been. It is a great reminder of the price that has been paid for the freedoms we enjoy. I would encourage you to look up the song on Google or YouTube. Listen to the words and I know it will inspire you. However, one thing that still bothers me is that the town mentioned in the story did not replace the flag. I wonder why.
It broke his heart to see that flag, that he defended in war, shredded up on a flagpole.
This very issue crossed my path recently. I received a heartfelt email from a friend and former city manager of Mount Airy, Peter Lydens. We keep in touch on various matters in the city but this email was not about that. Peter was concerned about a “ragged old flag” that hung on a forgotten flagpole in Mount Airy. You see, Peter is a Marine Corp veteran and served his country during the Korean War. It broke his heart to see that flag, that he defended in war, shredded up on a flagpole. He asked me to look into it and I did. As the son of a World War II veteran, I felt his pain as well. I purchased a new nylon flag, and without any fanfare or speeches, replaced that ragged old flag.
So now I have a few ideas for you to consider about flags:
1. Check on the condition of your flags that fly at your home, your business, your church, your school or where ever.
2. If the flags are worn out, replace them. If the flag belongs to someone else, let them know. US flags can be purchased almost anywhere.
3. If you fly a state flag or other flags, check on them as well. Replace the ones that are worn out.
4. Take a moment to read the US Flag Code (did you know we have one?), search for it on the internet or at the library. The US Code has a section that addresses the correct way to display and care for the US flag.
That flag means a lot to all of us, and especially to all of the veterans.
Finally, its ok if you have a “ragged old flag.” It’s been through a lot. That flag means a lot to all of us, and especially to all of the veterans. Give some thought to replacing it if it is worn out, and thank you Peter Lydens; for the heads up on one less “ragged old flag” in Mount Airy.
Written by: Randy Collins, Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce President & CEO
Published in The Mount Airy News Sunday, May 17, 2020