THE VigilanceVoice v  
Dec. 23--Sunday--Ground Zero Plus 103

         America's spirit flies.
         It soars.
         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 wind.
          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 national flag.
          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 protect it.


      Cliff McKenzie, Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News



    Go To --Dec. 22--The Price Of Death--A $6-Billion Payoff versus a Medal Of Honor

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