Monday, May 25, 2009

Flying the Black Flag

What are we, a pirate nation?

It was moving to see the U.S. flag flying at half staff over Taylor Square on Memorial Day. But that black flag flying underneath it always galls. The practice of flying the black POW-MIA flag under the U.S. flag on national holidays started back in the 1990s. It is meant to be a symbol of national concern and commitment to resolving the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War in Southeast Asia.

But to traditionalists like me, it just seems wrong. I have not forgotten the not-so-old days, when the U.S. flag would fly alone on its flag pole from schools and post offices and other government facilities. That was majestic. Nowadays, the U.S. flag all too often has to share the flag pole with the POW-MIA flag.

And who do we have to thank for this act of stupidity? The U.S, Congress of course, which authorized this atrocity under Bill Clinton's signature in the Defense Authorization Act of 1998. Don't get me wrong. I have seen some very tasteful and moving displays of the POW-MIA flag at war memorials and cemeteries where it has been flown from a separate pole. Just take the black flag off the U.S. flag pole.

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