I had become a little hungry and entered a local establishment to grab a bite to eat. Approaching the entrance of the restaurant, I looked up to see a sad sight. There, dangling from a flagpole, looking more like a rag than a proud symbol of the greatest nation known in the history of mankind, hung the tattered remnant of our proud Stars and Stripes.
I approached one of the employees to register my complaint.
“May I help you, Sir?” The girl asked pleasantly.
“Yes.” I said, a certain sternness in my voice. “I want to register a complaint.”
“Oh, the complaint department is outside.” She said, humorously.
“No.” I said, allowing the expression on my face to convey the seriousness of my resolve. “The ‘Complaint’ is outside.”
“Excuse me?” She questioned, now comprehending the seriousness of the potentially combative conversation. “What can I do for you, Sir?”
“Your flag is tattered and torn.” I informed her. “The bottom is completely torn free from the fastener. It looks more like a rag and is disrespectful.”
“OK. I’ll let our manager know about it.” The young woman replied, confusedly attempting to placate me.
“Look.” I countered. “There are regulatory codes regarding the displaying of the American Flag.”
She simply stood there, staring at me in disbelief.
“I will not make an issue of the fact that the flag may not be properly illuminated.” I continued my complaint. “However, you cannot display a flag that is wind torn and shabby in appearance. It must be replaced.”
“Illuminated?” She questioned.
“Yes.” I stated, seizing the opportunity to teach her a lesson in Patriotism. “A flag flown after sunset must have adequate lighting as to make the flag easily distinguishable to passersby, and must be an ‘all-weather flag’ if flown during inclement weather.”
“Lighting?” She queried.
“Yes. Lighting.” I continued. “There are very few flags that are excluded from this regulation.”
“Really?” Her expression confirming her lack of knowledge of the subject.
“Absolutely.” I confirmed. “Among the exceptions of flags that fly permanently, without lighting, is the flag flying proudly on the moon, the flag flying at the South Pole, and the flag atop Mt. Everest.”
“I’ll tell my manager.” She was trying to quiet me now. “Really, it’s not my job.”
“Your job?” I demanded, feeling my blood beginning to boil. “That is a Flag of the United States; respecting it is everyone’s job!”
“Well, we just had a bad storm.” She threw out her defense. “The wind was pretty bad.”
“I understand that.” I considered her claim. “But, that flag must be replaced.”
“But, we don’t have anyone to do it this evening.” She pleaded.
“OK.” I conceded. “But, if it cannot be replaced till morning, it should, at least, be removed tonight. The condition your flag is disrespectful and offensive.”
“I’m sorry, Sir.” She said, earnestly. “I don’t have anyone that can remove it tonight. I
will make sure my manager knows about it first thing in the morning.”
“OK.” I relented. “But, I will return in the morning to check on it.”
“You’re going to check back on the Flag?” She asked, astonished.
“Absolutely.” I responded, resolutely.
“Thank you.” I heard from behind me. “For noticing; and for stepping up to say something.”
I turned to face the speaker and found half a dozen other patrons had gathered to listen to the exchange. After the man expressed his thanks, the rest of the small group began to clap in support and appreciation.
“No.” I exclaimed, noticing the tattoo of a marine ‘Globe and Anchor’ on the man’s forearm. “Thank you, for your service. I will return in the morning, to see that they remove the insult displayed instead of a ‘Flag’.
I am proud to report, the Flag was removed early the next morning. Now, its replacement waves proud and free, the way it should; an inspiration to the few of us who shared the experience.
For my part, I could not help myself. I returned to the restaurant, sought out the young woman, and thanked her for following up on her commitment, and told her that I am proud of the patriotism she displayed in doing so.
Now, you know what happened in a small restaurant in mid-America. Now, like the few who were there that night, you too, should be proud of a young woman for her patriotism, and her manager for supporting her. But mostly, be proud of our Stars and Stripes, the colors for which so many have fought and died. Be proud of our flag, and the freedom and liberty it represents, and those who fight to protect it.