Veterans and flags 2011

Published 3:53pm Friday, November 25, 2011

Strong winds often unfurled fully the flags of all services as veterans and their families gathered to observe yet another Veterans Day at the uniquely grand Veterans Plaza in our county seat.
In most years the faithful cannot rightfully be called a crowd, since the gray and white heads are relatively few in number compared to the county’s population, most observing the national holiday some other way.
VFW Commander Scott Camp did his duties valiantly as master of ceremonies, but much of what was said and sung was carried away by the wind. Your scribe especially enjoyed remarks by Dr. Jerry Russell of Saluda and the stirring and proper singing of our national anthem by one Karen Lawrence.
I would have liked for her to sing all the verses, for we really need to hear the last one! (We sang all the verses when I went to Tryon School back in the Dark Ages.) There were some younger folks there this year, for the House of Flags was officially opened in its spacious new quarters right next door to the plaza.
The youngest ones were the members of the Polk County High School Cadet band, who played in tune and with enthusiasm the requisite patriotic pieces, and under the leadership of a Cadet, some lighter entertainment for those waiting for the House of Flags ceremonies to start.
How thankful we are for Cindy Gilbert and her inspired leadership of these talented young people.
The idea for the unique House of Flags was born in friend George Scofield’s graying noggin many years ago. He promoted it continually and tirelessly.
His enthusiasm was contagious: we are fortunate that George’s mantle fell upon Robert Williamson, who has continued to lead and guide others to make the beautiful new House of Flags a reality. From the outbuildings of the old Green Creek school to the abandoned Columbus firehouse these dedicated patriots have brought another unique entity to Polk County. I salute them.
I wish that more people could have heard Robert’s stirring essay about our flag. Fortunately, it has been printed in a small booklet.
I hope you will visit the House of Flags when you can give it the hour or more it deserves. And pick up a copy of that essay; it will do your heart good! It was good to be thanked for my service in the Air Force during the Korean War.
All of the males in my parents’ and my generations have served in various branches of our military. Nearly all of them came home alive and well, for which we are profoundly grateful.
Uncle Herman died of meningitis just before the Navy would have taken him on a world tour. The rest of us served our time, some in grave danger, and returned to civilian life with a built-in love of our country and what its flag represents. It is hard for people who have been given a folded flag at the graveside of their veteran to understand why some “protester” desecrates the emblem of our country.
Do the “demonstrators” not understand what it really represents? You might say that we veterans have been “brainwashed” to love, respect and defend it. Do the ones who seek to burn it or soil it realize that their freedom to express their views is embodied in those stars and stripes they disdain?
The so-called Homeland Security may already outnumber the Army. Is it what we want to have them restrain a veteran from trying to rescue our flag from desecration at a “protest” rally? Some of us have a problem with that; what about the rest of you?

Editor's Picks