The Saturday morning square was quiet, and photography began in close order until I was diverted by a distressing development at the veteran’s memorial.
The halyard broke during the storm, dropping both the flags (American and POW/MIA) onto the ground. So began some impromptu folding. The POW flag I merely took off the ground and set on a bench to dry. The American flag, though? It wasn’t the neatest job because it was drenched, and I was doing alone what is supposed to be a two man duty, but I know how to properly fold a flag.
Some people find it strange that I have a certain reverence for the flag. Such sentiment is more often found in those of a political bent that I most certainly am not. I would even be the first to say that it merely a piece of cloth and can be treated as such. But it is still a symbol I hold dear. It is the ensign of a bold experiment that has sometimes succeeded beyond the hopes of its creators and yet sometimes also failed beyond those men’s dreams or nightmares. It has gone with us to make peace and to lead us into battle. It has signaled comfort and succor for many, and also fright and terror to others (sometimes the right people, sometimes the wrong people). It waves over both the castle on the hill, a beacon of prosperity and principle to the world, and the dystopian nightmare of self-interest, avaricious and destructive. But the symbol and piece of cloth are a synecdoche of sorts for the proverbial “We, the People”. It is us and the other, the poor and the rich, the urban and rural, even the citizen and the immigrant. It is a wonderful, terrible thing, full of dichotomy but still e pluribus unum. So, as I like to think I care for the people of my country, I care for the symbol that represents it. What I do for that strip of cloth, I do for the people of this country. I can’t keep it from falling, but I can help it up out of the rain.
On a more personal note, this is one of the reasons I like these trips. Out here, on the road, away from the encumbrance of regular day to day existence, my mind wanders and crystallizes things. A hundred thoughts flow because I’m away and alone and don’t have to think about the oil change or making dinner or getting the girls to a birthday party or the new season of the show I’m watching or any of the plethora of other mundane details of home. Out here, I am only that which is inside my armor. Now that I’m approaching the end of the Project, I’m starting to realize how much I’ll miss it. But that’s neither here nor there. I have an appointment to keep but not in Samara.
There’s always a cemetery. Simple and to the point. Grabbed, signed, returned. Ok, so I still have another non-Samaran appointment. This other one is down the road in…