Thursday, February 26, 2015

United Once More

UN Flag flies above Black Liberation flag this morning

The pretty blue United Nations flag has returned to its perch directly in front of Town Hall after the previous one was stolen during a storm and briefly replaced with a pirate flag.

I'm told the last remaining member of the original committee who brought the request to Amherst Town Meeting in 1972 donated the new flag. 

The Amherst town flag has been missing from the turret on Town Hall for about as long as the UN flag was missing.

The staff broke so it needs to be replaced before it goes back up alongside the state flag and one of the original 29 commemorative American flags (originally installed during that glorious summer of 2001) that have caused such controversy whenever the anniversary of 9/11 comes calling.

Interestingly Town Meeting this spring will no doubt unanimously support a  "citizens petition" to declare June 14 "Race Amity Day".    Of course June 14 is also "Flag Day".  Which I find exceedingly appropriate.

The American flag represents the diversity -- aka "melting pot"  -- of all the immigrants, all the races, creeds, colors, religions or sexual persuasions that built this great country.

And she represents the freedom so many of us take for granted. 

Precisely why the 29 commemorative flags should fly in the downtown this coming 9/11.


Anonymous said...

I always found the following part of the flag code interesting...

"The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed, or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard."

As it is violated all the time, even locally.

Interesting that after an officers uniform has the flag on it, it is no longer considered disposable or temporary. I am curious how municipalities honor this part of the code or is it left to the soldier/officer to do so (or gasp, is it ignored). This means their should literally be millions of uniforms in safe and honorable storage.

Anonymous said...

There are no penalties associated with violations of the Flag Code.

The Juggernaut said...

The flag code isn't law though, it is just advisory guidelines.

And Larry, the town won't fly those American flags on Sept. 11th despite your honorable efforts. I remember planting them back during the times at UMass, and the "liberated" minds of several local citizens calling us homophobic slurs over planting the flags. The police and fire department sure seemed to appreciate someone remembered them that day though....

Anonymous said...

Yes the US flag codes is not law, it is a suggested protocol. This makes it a lot like opening doors for women, saying the pledge or respecting elders. All of which are done most of the time, but not all the time and this is ok.

Remember, though, that Amherst codes are law and must be followed.

Anonymous said...

The UN flag. Great. What has the UN done in the fight against Islamic terrorism?

Anonymous said...

Can someone fill me in? Why won't Amherst fly American Flags on Sept. 11th? I've lived here for 5 years, but am unaware of this controversy. I'm as liberal as they come, but not flying flags on 9/11? I can't even *imagine* the ridiculous convoluted reasoning Amherst doesn't fly them...Vince O'Conner convinced someone they're a symbol of imperialism?

Larry Kelley said...

In the late summer of 2001 the Amherst Veterans Department placed 29 commemorative American flags in the downtown one gorgeous August morning.

Some people complained about the flags so the Select Board, keepers of the public way, held a public hearing on the night of 9/10/01, only 12 hours before the first plane struck the North Tower.

At that packed meeting a UMass professor branded the American flag a "symbol of terrorism, death, fear and destruction," which the Wall Street Journal dubbed "the ill-timed quote of the century."

The Select Board voted to allow the 29 flags to fly on only six occasions: Flag Day, July 4, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Patriots Day, and Labor Day. In late October, 2001 I went back to the Select Board and asked them to add 9/11 to the short list of days the commemorative flags could fly. They refused.

But the flags did fly on the first and second anniversary of that awful day. Then a new Select Board came into power and the flags were kept down from 2004 through 2008 despite my annual appeal.

On May 16, 2007 Amherst Town Meeting voted down my petition to allow the flags to fly every 9/11 by a two-thirds vote, 96-41.

Because of a public relations backlash the Select Board came up with a "compromise" based on the lopsided Town Meeting vote allowing the flags up once every three years, starting in 2008.

But when I went before them in 2009 with my annual request -- not only did they not allow them up that year but they changed the "compromise" to once every five years starting in 2011, so they would be up on the 10th anniversary and thereafter on "milestone anniversaries."

So the next scheduled time they are allowed to fly is 2016.