Commemorative flags in town center
Yeah, they too remember (lousy bastards)
9/10/01: The Eve of Destruction
So now it turns out 'His Lordship' Select Board Chair Gerry Weiss will not even be present on Monday night for the 9/11 flag issue (7:05 pm). Fair enough. But to go one stunningly further he actually supports flying the flags this year, and again three years from now (the 10’th anniversary) because Town Meeting voted by a two-thirds majority AGAINST flying the 29 flags on 9/11. Thus leaving a small plurality of one-third in favor of doing the right thing. So to honor the wishes of that one-third he will allow them to fly once every three years.
Hmmm. Why not fly one-third of them every year? Or should John Kerry have become Co-President in 2004 because he garnered half the vote?
Most stupid political reasoning I have ever heard! But what the Hell—this is The 'People’s Republic of Amherst'--where the American flag never wins, so I will take it.
Monday's upcoming SB meeting courtesy of Select Person O'keeffe (who will be there)
Thursday, May 17, 2007
With apologies to the Bard
This session was much ado about nothing.
Article 39: Commemorative Flags. Petitioner Larry Kelley made – let’s face it – a stunningly thoughtful and moderate presentation about the first and nearly-final casualties of September 11th, and how they were both gay men, and how broad the diversity was of innocent lives lost on that day. He said that that is what the flag stands for – not militarism or the war in Iraq, but the people of the U.S. He noted the contrast of the Select Board’s unanimous vote to fly the rainbow flag for the anniversary of the gay marriage decision, and how they then unanimously voted to take no position on this proposal to fly the commemorative flags at half-staff every 9/11, and said that the two people he had previously referenced might have found that ironic.
Gerry Weiss said the Select Board would let Town Meeting decide. Anne Awad talked about being on the Board when 9/11 occurred, and all the various flag flying requests the board gets, and all the various tragedies that could be marked. She said that the main Town flag is lowered to half-staff on 9/11 and that it is a somber event. She said the commemorative flags seem more celebratory, and more suitable for Fourth of July. She urged members to oppose the article.
A couple of members spoke to the multitude of tragedies all over the world and throughout history, including those perpetuated by town namesake Lord Jeffery Amherst. One suggested voting against the article in favor of establishing a committee to more broadly honor all such events, and another just wanted it defeated.
A member speaking in support said the red flag stripes denote American blood shed for this country’s freedom. Another suggested that dates for commemorating other tragedies be brought forth as well. Another said that he regarded the article as a call for a day of reflection for a tragic event that affected all of us. Another said that we shouldn’t do what our government has done and link that event to the war.
A member made a motion to refer the article to the Human Rights Commission, not as a way of defeating it, she said, but as a way of reshaping the article in a way that would be less inclined to divide the meeting.
There was a standing vote on the motion to refer. It failed, and I apparently didn’t write down the totals. I voted against referral.
Someone asked what the six holidays are for which the commemorative flags are flown, and if any of those had them at half-staff. The answer to the latter was no, and to the former was: Patriots Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, July 4th, Labor Day and Veterans Day.
There was a tally vote on the article – 41 Yes and 96 No. I voted Yes.
This was the third issue of the night that made my brain hurt, and all for different reasons.
First of all, I love the flag, and I have none of the compunctions about it that many do. My personal patriotism isn’t contingent on who occupies the White House or the state of our foreign policy. I recognize that many don’t feel that way.
You get an article like this, and no matter how thoughtfully it was presented, and how thoughtfully it was both supported and objected to, it becomes bigger than the specific issue at hand. It becomes an issue of all the various ways people feel about the flag and the country. It becomes a mutual provocation. It becomes a test. Its significance gets blown out of all proportion by those on both sides of the vote.
I didn’t really like the article. To me, it felt vaguely like using the 9/11 tragedy to provoke an expected reaction. So for a while, I thought I might oppose it. But I also think that people are terribly intolerant of more traditional and optimistic opinions of the flag, and I’m tired of that. How come being progressive and open-minded only applies to that with which you agree?
So I went back to logic similar to that which I used in supporting the resident alien voting article: it is important to some, and should be of little consequence to others. I don’t need to have commemorative flags at half-staff downtown to mark my 9/11 remembrance, but it doesn’t hurt. If you strip away all the overwrought Amherst stuff that becomes part and parcel of this article, it is really saying, “Should we fly flags downtown every year on 9/11?” And to that, I say – “Sure! Why not?” To me, answers to “why not” were not compelling, but of course, I was in the minority.