Amherst Town Center, this morning
Yes the town flag is once again at half staff by Governor's orders, this time for U.S. Army Major Steven Brothers of Arlington, Massachusetts who died on May 30 from leukemia . This now makes the 5th time in a week, all for military personnel, 80% of whom died by non-military related causes.
Makes you wonder if folks by now are starting to get desensitized to Old Glory in that position of mourning?
The federal government only recognizes four annual occasions for the flag to fly at half staff: Pearl Harbor Day (December 7 for you young'uns), Peace Officers Day (5/15), Memorial Day and most recently 9/11. Of course special occasions do occur like the death of a former high ranking political figure, or to mourn mass murders like Virginia Tech and the most recent Colorado theatre shootings.
A timely example is President Obama noting the passing of astronaut Neil Armstrong with just such a well deserved honor this coming Friday.
On Monday night the Amherst Select Board mentioned a number of times as their predecessors have done over the past ten years, that the town does recognize and mourn 9/11 by flying the town flag (that does fly 24/7 all year) at half staff.
I particularly remember Selectman Robie Hubley (secretly married to SB chair Anne Awad at the time) seven years ago saying he brought the flag down to half staff in town center "with my own bare hands". Of course once the photo op was finished Mr. Hubley forgot to return the next day to bring the flag back up to full staff and it stayed down for the next two or three days.
And my fear this year is that the Governor will have the flag down on 9/8, 9/9, 9/10 for state reasons, and by 9/11 it will be a little less noticeable. Combine that with the recent decision of the Select Board not to fly the 29 commemorative flags in town center on 9/11, and you are heading down a dangerous path:
"Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it."