On the Fourth of July the real estate folks plant little flags at all of the houses . There is a paper attached , of course , with their name and business . Every property gets a little American flag .
Some of the neighbors have left their larger cotton flags out since Fourth of July , too . Maybe the little plastic real estate advertisement flags have caused these people to forget flag protocol . Wasn’t anybody a boy scout ? A flag comes down at sunset , unless it is lit all night . Then , I guess it can fly nightly within the rules .
What are people trying to prove by letting their stars and stripes hang there on the pole , day in and day out ? I wonder . Maybe the flag hangers have forgotten to take them down . Maybe Fourth of July came and went and the flag was forgotten , and every time the owner sees the flag still out he or she thinks : I’ll put it away tomorrow .
I suppose a person might think himself or herself more patriotic by flying the flag every day and night . But letting a flag droop there by the front door on it’s wooden dowel , abandoned and ignored ——- well , it doesn’t shout patriotism to me . Maybe something more along the lines of neglect . Sorry . I know you guys meant well .
I’m not against flag waving . We have a flag that we display every national holiday . I feel bad if I forget to put it out . I like to see the houses on the street all flying the flag on those patriotic days . There seems to be an unspoken and unwritten notice on those days that, hey , we all share an identity , that we are all on the same team even if we’ve never met one another , even if we root for different sports teams or political candidates , even if we can’t stand the same music or the same foods . And then I like to see the flags go .
One day after school several years ago two of my eighth grade students wanted to talk to me . They had a problem . I could see anguish in their eyes . I braced myself for something serious .
” We have this flag and we have to get rid of it “.
” Throw it in the dumpster , ” I said .
” We have to either burn it or bury it ,” they told me . ” And we don’t have a place to burn it or bury it .”
” And that’s the problem , ” I said .
” I’ll take care of it for you , ” I assured them . They were relieved . They took deep breaths and let them out . They calmed down and their eighth grade eyes smiled . They left my classroom , having done their duty to dispose of a flag properly . It had been important to them .