Dec. 23--Sunday--Ground Zero Plus
FLAGS IN THE WIND
Especially in the wind.
Over the past few weeks I have
been taking pictures of various flags around the city of New York.
My eye was attracted to the flags which do the most work--the ones who
stand stiff, or flutter, flap, snap, billow and fall to the whims of the
On this page I share some
of the flags I have shot with my Kodak 3400 digital camera.
What I cannot share is the feeling I get when I take a picture.
I think about the people
who put the flag on their car's antenna, or draped it out their window, or
hoisted it up a flagpole, or tied it to a Christmas Tree top, or stabbed
it into a plastic replica of a giant hamburger, or crossed it with their
As I narrow my gaze when
I walk for the "flag of the day," I think about the motivation behind a
person who is willing to display to the world his or her beliefs in what
the flag stands for, especially in these times, post Nine Eleven.
I know there is a great
story behind each person who flies a flag--either from the fear of people
assuming they might be less American if they don't, to those who know the
red in the flag represents the blood of those who died, and will die, to
preserve the right to fly it--regardless of race, color, creed, ethnicity,
or national origin.
I also see the street
vendors. And while some may consider them capitalizing on the horror
of the tragedy of September 11. I felt the opposite. The
more vendors selling flags, the lower the price, and the more accessible
the flags are to those who wish to fly them. Capitalism
at its best allows the supply to meet the demand, at the lowest price with
the highest quality. And I looked at the flag vendors as
"bonding glue." Without them, people couldn't signal their support.
They couldn't express their desire to "contribute" something to an event
which has shaken America's foundations, and in the process, strengthened
her resolve. I salute the flag vendors.
And those who do not display
flags, I salute them too. Flying a flag is a right. One
can choose to fly a flag or not. It doesn't mean the person is
less patriotic, or less committed to the security or honor of America.
However, I did note an irony.
Along 59th Street and Columbus Circle, where the more expensive apartments
in the city are located, I saw very few flags displayed in relation to
what I saw in the Lower East Side. I thought it
particularly interesting that those who have used America's opportunities
to collect millions of dollars from their efforts, were less inclined to
display the Freedom Flag that allowed them to rise up overlooking Central
Park than those in the "barrio" where a dollar is hard to find.
Nevertheless, the right to fly or not fly a flag does not disparage a
person's loyalty. Although, if one were to guess who would be most
thankful for the flag, it would be those overlooking Central Park, and, it
would seem their buildings would dripping red, white and blue.
I was also a bit amazed that the mayor took
the flags off half-mast so early after September 11. It seems to me
they should fly in respect of the dead for a full year. I note that
many of the fire stations keep theirs at half mast.
But my business today, is to share with
some of my "flags in the wind," photos. I am not a great
photographer, but the subject is great.
As a combat veteran, I fought a war in
which our flag was spat upon, soiled, burned, ravaged--yet it still flew
despite those who desecrated it. Integrity is hard to
kill. My flag pictures not only stand for those who died on
September 11, but all those who have died for their country, in all forms
and situations, military and civilian.
I respect patriotism, not government.
Governments come and go. They are fickle personal opinions of those
in charge at that moment. But patriotism is constant. It
rises above the human fragility, the greed, the thirst for power.
It forms an umbrella over our heads, that gives us the right to revolt
against oppressive, tyrannical rule if we have the courage and conviction
to stand up for our rights, and our children's rights.
And to me, that's what the flag represents.
It represents the greatest government of all--the government of belief in
freedom, and the willingness to lay down one's life to preserve and
Cliff McKenzie, Editor, New York City
Combat Correspondent News