June 14, 2011


Happy Flag Day everyone. Here's a speech from a local event where a citizens' group presented the Hanover school system with American flags for classrooms that lacked them. And the following is a story that Walter Berns tells at the end of his fine book, Making Patriots :
The following story is told by a foreign diplomat who, as he explains, had occasion to visit the United States Embassy in the capital of his country.

'I arrived at a quarter to six, after official office hours, and was met by the Marine on guard at the entrance of the Chancery. He asked if I would mind waiting while he lowered the two American flags at the Embassy.  What I witnessed over the next ten minutes so impressed me that I am now led to make this occurrence a part of my ongoing record of this distressing era.

The Marine was dressed in a uniform which was spotless and neat; he walked with a measured tread from the entrance of the Chancery to the stainless steel flagpole before the Embassy and, almost reverently, lowered the flag to the level of his reach where he began to fold it in military fashion.  He then released the flag from the clasps attaching it to the rope, stepped back from the pole, made an about-face, and carried the flag between his hands--one above, one below--and placed it securely on a stand before the Chancery.

He then marched over to a second flagpole and repeated the same lonesome ceremony....  After completing his task, he apologized for the delay--out of pure courtesy, as nothing less than incapacity would have prevented him from fulfilling his goal --and said to me, "Thank you for waiting, Sir.  I had to pay honor to my country."

I have had to tell this story because there was something impressive about a lone Marine carrying out a ceremonial task which obviously meant very much to him and which, in its simplicity, made the might, the power and the glory of the United States of America stand forth in a way that a mighty wave of military aircraft, or the passage of a supercarrier, or a parade of 10,000 men could never have made manifest.

One day it is my hope to visit one of our embassies in a faraway place and to see a soldier fold our flag and turn to a stranger and say, "I am sorry for the delay, Sir.  I had to honor my country."

I'm not supposed to know--except that my son is a blabbermouth--that for Father's Day I'm getting an American Flag to put on our front porch. We too wish to honor our country. Originally posted: 2002-06-14 MORE: Here's something else we posted a few years ago
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Posted by at June 14, 2011 12:00 AM

What a wonderful story to start the day. Thanks.

I just reread a story about the honor guards at Arlington cemetary who refused to leave their post when ordered to do so in the wake of an impending hurricane. Also a couple of heart warming stories of professional baseball players who saved the flag, one from the hands of young parader who was overcome from heat and about the faint and another who rescued the flag from the hands of louts about to set it on fire.

Posted by: erp at June 14, 2005 7:20 AM

Yes, great story, and thanks from me too. And it's funny, I clicked on the comment link mostly to say that I feel like the man in the story whenever I visit the Tomb of the Unkowns at Arlington. And "erp" already said it! To any of you that have never witnessed the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns, you simply must make a point of seeing it; sends chills up your spine.

That ball player who saved the flag from idiots trying to burn it was Rick Monday, playing for the Cubs against the Dodgers in L.A. I was watching the game on TV. And I learn from that article that Rick served 6 years in the Marine Reserves, and he has that very flag on display in his home.

Posted by: Jeff Brokaw at June 14, 2005 7:55 AM

I have a 25 foot flag pole with an eight by five flag in the front yard. It sits in a field stone/cement structure, which measures 16 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 4 feet tall. I built it. Planted in the structure are 6 juniper bushes. I forget which kind. I've also been to the Tomb of the Unknowns. Very impressive.

Posted by: AllenS at June 14, 2005 8:12 AM
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