Frank J. Montoya

WHERE’S THE FLAG?

A few weeks ago, while driving around the Wal-Mart parking lot looking for a place to park (no easy task), I suddenly had a weird feeling that something was wrong. Something was different. Something was missing. I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought until I happened to see a white Dodge Intrepid and a white Plymouth Breeze parked near to each other and each was flying the Stars and Stripes on its antenna. Then it dawned on me. These were the only two cars in the whole parking lot that I could see flying the Flag. After several turns around the lot, I finally found a place to park, but could not see any additional flags on car antennas, and very few Flag decals in car windows.

Do you remember last year? Late September and October? Through Veteran’s Day and the holidays? Every other car sported a Flag on its antenna. Flags were everywhere, all shapes and sizes. Not only on cars, but also in windows, in front yards, on flagpoles, on billboards, in store fronts, on caps, hats, clothing, every place imaginable. Flags were available everywhere, at almost every check-out stand in almost every type of business establishment and they sold “like hotcakes”

These past several days I’ve made it a point to look for Flags. There are still many out there and, thankfully, quite a few are new, clean, and properly displayed, but sadly, many more are dirty, tattered, and torn, some are barely 3/4 of their original size. Window decal Flags are faded and peeling. Store stocks are at pre 9/11 levels and have been relegated back to pre 9/11 shelves or bins.

I remember writing a piece two days after 9/11 entitled: How Long Should We Fly the Flag. In it, I sought to echo the sentiment of most Americans: “We will fly the Flag for as long as it takes.” It is sad to think that our commitment is of such a transitory nature that less than a year later, the Flag: that symbol of our resolve, has been, like an old shoe, put back in the closet.

Not a whole lot has changed in the past 12 months. We are still “at war” with terrorism. We are, or should be, constantly aware that we are vulnerable to future attacks anywhere at any time. Our troops have been placed in harm’s way and will, no doubt, remain so indefinitely.

Our Flag symbolizes our resolution, our purpose, and our unity. By proudly and properly displaying our Flag we can express those qualities to our friends and to our enemies. On a related note, a Federal District Court in California recently ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance to our Flag, as written, is unconstitutional. This serves only to put our Flag and all it represents in an unfavorable light, much to the delight of our enemies. This is not the time for divisiveness over words or phrases; it is a time to stand together in a show of unyielding determination as we face an adverse and uncertain future.

Now is the hour for all Americans to show their resolve, their unanimity, their intentions, and their expectations. On the anniversary of that horrible Day of Infamy, September 11th, we can accomplish this very simply, each and every one of us, by just flying the Flag. Imagine millions of Flags proudly being displayed once again on flagpoles, at homes, in windows, in stores, on cars, on our caps, hats, vests, collars, everywhere and anywhere and, last but not least, maybe even in our very own hands.

Imagine what a statement of affirmation of patriotism and solidarity such an exposition of Flags would make. Furthermore, such an act would indeed indicate to the world, one more time that we see ourselves as: “One Nation, Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”

We must be thankful for having the freedom, the privilege, and the duty to fly the Flag. For how long?

For as long as it takes!