When my patriotism overcame logic

Published 3:37 pm Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Your storyteller has let his patriotism overcome his reasoning and must apologize for a lapse in logic in his latest column. Here is the problem I created in that column, as pointed out to me by visiting friend, Jim North: After writing about the flag giving the “protester” the right to soil it, I then asked whether it was “what we wanted” to have the Homeland Security guy restrain a veteran who tried to rescue the flag from desecration by a protester. What I missed in my query was that both the Homeland Security guy and the veteran had taken the same oath to defend the Constitution.
The Supreme Court, charged with telling us what the Constitution says, tells us that desecrating our flag is a form of speech (conveniently called “expression” now) that is protected by the Constitution. So what it comes down to is that a serviceman on active duty must also allow the desecration of the flag as part of his sworn duty to his country!
Now the lawyers will have to tell me whether a veteran is still bound by the oath he took when he was sworn in for his tour of duty after he is honorably discharged and now a civilian. I learned in college that our freedoms do have restrictions and consequences. The example I remember is that we must not yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre. Fran remembers that “Your freedom to swing your arm ends at my nose.” I think we had good teachers, and I might add that all the teachers we know personally are also good teachers.
So you see I am conflicted in my thinking; I do have a problem with people intentionally desecrating our flag. What the flag represents to me is obviously different from what it represents to them. Sure, there are “wrongs” in our country, but we have done a lot of things “right.” Sometimes it takes too long to right the wrongs, but we have the framework in place to do it peacefully, eventually. I hope I can learn to appreciate that what I see as outrageous behavior is really an indication of the essential greatness of our country at work. Tough call!
A former Navy Chief and I volunteered to put up our flag and take it down in front of our company’s building every workday. You can know that our flag was handled reverently, never touched the ground, was hoisted briskly, lowered gently and respectfully, and folded carefully into the familiar tricorn, with no red showing. I fly a flag in front of our house nearly every day, but I must confess that sometimes I forget to bring it in before the rains come, or before darkness falls. “Meanin’ no disrespect, ma’am.”
Many people refer to me as a “local historian,” and I always tell them that I am not a historian (and refer them to Anna Conner, who is), but just a storyteller. But when stories are published and become archived, they seem to morph into history, for later historians will refer to them, and quote from them, as “research.”
Here are two more reasons why I am a poor historian: friend Mike McCue quickly informed me that Ernest Kerhulas bought the Sunnydale building already built (I had said that he built it) and he pointed out that F. Scott Fitzgerald completed his Great Gatsby in the mid-20s, not during the 30s at Oak Hall. Aunt Mildred is gone now, but she used to take me to task often for getting the facts wrong; for instance, she informed me that the shotgun I used on the telephone was HERS, not my grandfather’s.
To anyone I have misled, I offer my apologies. And please continue the work of Aunt Mildred and others who keep me honest and truthful, if only after being corrected. Thank you.

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