Saluting Flag Day, Anti-Rail Folly
Wednesday - June 11, 2008
Saturday is Flag Day, probably the least observed unofficial holiday in the United States.
And that’s OK by me. I’m one of those who loves the country but is blasé about the piece of cloth that flies over government buildings. I’ve seen too many crazies in my days running wild in streets of the world with their flags.
America’s earliest flag might have been designed by John Hulbert in 1775, although some textile experts now claim one in a museum in Riverhead, N.Y., can’t be earlier than 1840.
By my count, America had 27 flags by the time Hawaii joined the union and we settled into a standard, 50-star banner in 1960. For many years, flag makers even argued over the proper hues of the reds, the whites and the blues.
We didn’t have a Flag Day until Woodrow Wilson was pressed by Congress in 1916 to proclaim that. It marks when the 2nd Continental Congress adopted official flag #1 in 1777.
It’s been Flag Day by act of Congress since 1949, but it’s not a federal holiday. It’s no big deal except in Pennsylvania where it is a paid state holiday. Some cities have parades, but increasingly they decrease in number as the turnout decreases.
The main issue of the day is still whether you should go to jail for burning the flag on federal property or for burning somebody else’s flag - Hillary Clinton supports that.
I wish people did not burn our flag. Not because there’s anything sacred about it; it just inflames lots of other people. Why go out of your way to inflame? Besides, if the flag’s just a piece of cloth, why not burn your shirt or your underpants?
Well, I know, the argument’s made that the flag is a symbol that stands for social order and burning it stands for disorder. I wonder if a symbol of social order was what schoolteacher Bernard Cigrand had in mind when he suggested Flag Day in 1885 in Wisconsin? He wrote a newspaper article that seemed to catch fire (no pun intended.) Three years later, William Kerr of Collier, Pa., started the American Flag Day Association. But not much else happened until Harry Truman signed the Flag Day order of 1949 - same year he desegregated the armed forces.
We’re supposed to fly a flag at our houses this Saturday. Government buildings are to display it, too, but that’s redundant because they already do. The National Flag Day Foundation prefers that we observe Flag Day on the second Sunday of June - already gone.
Would we be any the less of a nation if we didn’t wave the flag? I can’t see how. We’re only diminished when our government bends or breaks the rules that have made us at most-times great and honorable people.
Honorable National Behavior Day? Now that’s the kind of holiday I could go for.
Are you among those inclined to sign the Stop Rail Now petition because you’ve been told we can build a 12-mile, high-occupancy elevated highway for under $900 million?
Check the morning and evening rush-hour traffic any day. Then imagine how many more vehicles will be on the road 20 years from now if there’s no mass-transit alternative.
Even imagine a toll highway taking some cars over the H-1 on a second deck.
Now imagine all those vehicles, H-1, regular streets and HOT lanes all pouring into downtown or Waipahu, Pearl City or Kapolei at once. Chaos at the terminals.
That’s why forward-thinking people are saying we must have the trains. Expensive and disruptive during the build-out but there’s no other way out of our mess.
The only idea that’s nuttier than another road is to build a tunnel under Pearl Harbor to bring more cars faster to downtown.
Want to rethink your signature on that no-rail petition?
Three cheers for the Texas Supreme Court, which ordered the state to return children to their parents who belong to that fundamentalist Mormon sect. The justices said Child Protective Services failed to show an immediate danger to the more than 400 children swept up from the Yearning For Zion community two months ago.
I’ve never felt comfortable about that raid, which was based on an anonymous phone call that under-age girls were being married off to older men.
There are plenty of choices parents make for children that some of us disagree with - I don’t like homeschooling, for example, or heavy-handed religious indoctrination - but it must be some actionable abuse before the state steps in.
These Yearning For Zion kids are growing up in less than enlightened conditions but that’s none of my business and certainly none of the government’s.
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