Monday, April 20, 2009

Retiring a flag

There's always a flag flying at our house. Recently I noticed that it was pretty wind-whipped and faded. So what do you do with an old flag? Throwing it in the trash seems disrespectful - and it is. Instead, you should retire the flag. In this context, retire means to properly decommission and destroy the flag.

One option is to neatly fold the flag and drop it off at the local firehouse or boy scout troop. They'll know what to do.

If you want to do it yourself, here's one way. Get the flag and go to a quiet spot and get comfortable. Take your knife or scissors and cut the grommets off the flag. Keep the grommets - they are good luck. I always keep some in my truck. Then cut from the flag the rest of the grommet strip. It's annoying and isn't part of the flag. Now you're ready to begin.

Cut the field (the blue part with the stars) out of the flag. While you're doing this, remember to thank your lucky stars that you're in the US of A. Take the time to think of something that shows how fortunate you are. Maybe it's that you get your choice of news sources. Or to have more than one candidate to vote for. Or that our water is clean and our roads are smooth. I don't take much for granted. While you're thinking these thoughts, cut the field into 4 or 9 pieces. Try to make them the same size and keep the cuts straight and square - we're not shredding trash here.

Now cut the stripes into alternating red and white strips of fabric. Take your time. While you're doing this, look at those red strips and think about the men and women who have bled to make sure our lives are soft and easy. Those red strips are like a ribbons stretching through time from the Revolutionary War through the current Middle East conflicts. The common thread is that for the last 235 years soldiers have bled for this country to protect our way of life and things we hold dear. If you're one of these people, please accept my gratitude. If you're not, you owe a debt you can't repay. Please, do not waste their blood.

Think about the white strips. These could represent everyone in the country. All the people, interwoven with the blood of patriots. I mean your neighbor, the Mexican guy who you saw at the corner market this morning, the impatient Hindu guy in traffic, your co-workers, the crossing-guard lady... everyone. There is no other place where so many different people are welcomed. While it isn't always easy, I am convinced our diversity is a tremendous strength. Think about the cacophony that is America's People and drink it in.

Take the longest red strip and set it aside. Cut the rest of the strips into pieces about long as those pieces from the field. Put them inside the blue squares. Place the whole thing on the red strip you set aside earlier and tie it up into a tight bundle.

Now you no longer have a flag. You have a small bundle of fabric. You can place it in the trash now.

Be sure to get your new flag up as soon as you can.

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