Tuesday, September 1, 2015

As It Always Should Have Been


 Commemorative flags in town center

The one hour discussion last night at the regular Monday meeting of the Amherst Select Board was one of the more heart wrenching experiences of my 30+ year involvement in civic engagement.

I had thought about bringing along the Ground Zero flag but thought one of my Trolls would say I was using it as a prop, or contacting a couple dozen people to show up as a sign of public support.   

But in the end decided to let the issue speak for itself. Let the reminder of that day -- that awful, awful day -- take center stage.  The spirit of 3,000 slaughtered Americans can't be ignored.

I took a quick photo of the Board with my iPbone from my front row seat about half-way through the discussion and grudgingly prepared my 1st breaking news bulletin:  "Select Board votes 3-2 NOT to fly the commemorative flags annually on 9/11."

Then even more ominously, Chair Alisa Brewer expressed doubt about the Board reaching consensus and asked almost rhetorically if they should even come to a vote because avoiding a formal vote would simply keep the current once-every-five-year policy in place.  I reedited my tweet:

"Select Board pocket vetoes annual flying of commemorative flags every 9/11, avoids taking a vote."

But then Chair Alisa Brewer, who is the most experienced member of the Board, threw down the gauntlet by making the motion to support annual flying.  An unusual break in protocol as the Chair never make motions.  Runner up most experienced Board member Jim Wald seconded the motion.

Now I thought they would return to a 3-2 vote against annual flight, but at least it would be a matter of public record.

Then, thankfully, Connie Kruger came up with the idea of adding the President's call for a "National Day of Service"  (Town Manager Musante calmly crafted it into the motion) and a sea change took place.

The three least experienced Select Board member, who previously expressed doubt about annual flying, almost instantly came into the fold.  The motion passing unanimously.

In the end, a margin far better than I expected.

But still, bittersweet.  What happened that terrible day is forever seared into our memories and nothing will ever change that.

The presence of 29 commemorative flags, I hope, will bring us some small degree of comfort -- just as it did those three firefighters who raised a borrowed flag over the smouldering rubble of what was only hours before, those majestic Twin Towers of glass and steel.

For the youth now flocking to our college town, I sincerely hope the flags will serve as a simple reminder, so they pause for a brief moment to acknowledge the pernicious price we paid that otherwise bright & beautiful morning ... simply for being Americans.

The cost of freedom.





AFD annual 9/11 ceremony is at Central Station 9:45 AM

37 comments:

trussdob said...

Well done Larry, well done.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Larry. Great news! Congratulations Amherst. And congratulations to America.

Anonymous said...

Larry, congratulations seems too small a word, as anyone familiar with you knows what this means to you.

Trolls will be trolls... usually anonymously, and I'm sure they will run their mouths. But decent folks, even if this issue doesn't particularly move them, see your devotion to, and love of country as honorable, and this victory as a lesson in perseverance.

As for Amherst, this is a chance to re-gain some respectability from the vast majority of folks who do not view traditional patriotism and love of flag as sheepish or misguided. I hope the story goes national as all the negative publicity did.

"Actually, what the flag stands for is a symbol of terrorism and death and fear and destruction and repression."

Those words spoken by Professor Jenny Traschen still make me wonder how one can be intelligent enough to be trusted to shape young minds, yet unable to see the history of what this country has done for the oppressed, the underprivileged, the voiceless, and the fact that we are moving toward a color blind, justice for all, future. (Are there not many places in the world where she could never rise to a position of professor simply because of her gender?) Just talk to the young folks to understand their take on race and fairness in our country, and you will see that it is just a matter of time until these things become the norm. Old habits die hard, and some ugliness will live on, but clearly the trend is to move always forward toward a better America for all. But some people refuse to see the glass as half full I suppose. For people like Traschen to expect our country to simply become pacifist is the lunatic fringe view, not a reasonable, or even possible agenda in the world today. But who among us do not see that as the ultimate goal for all of mankind?
I do not like everything the government does in my name, I do not subscribe to some of the hawkish mentality that we sometimes demonstrate, and I do not follow the flag blindly, we are a work in progress. But I do love our flag, I love our country, and until the day I die I will stand up and place my hand on my heart when I hear the Star Spangled Banner ringing through a ballpark full of kids playing baseball in a field that was given to them by the blood of men who shaped and defended this country to their death. And I don't give a damn about anyone who has a problem with that.

Richard Marsh

Anonymous said...

Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

nice work.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Larry

Laura said...

You do good work! Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

The WGGB morning show is showing newscasters returning to their elementary schools for a visit. Brittany Decker visited her school. During the visit she sang a version of the Pledge of Allegiance she had learned as a student.
It reminded me that Amherst children have to learn the pledge outside of school!

Anonymous said...

Does any amherst teacher have the students say the Pledge at the start of the school day? If none do, why not?

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad students don't recite any brainwashing propaganda like the Pledge of Allegiance. Just the word "allegiance" makes my skin crawl. I can understand the flag... I guess. But forcing kids to mindlessly give themselves over to a higher power (no to mention to God), is everything this country is NOT about.

Anonymous said...

Way to go Larry. Keep fighting for all that's right.

Anonymous said...

Bless you Larry. God is in your corner.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:28: Why are you assuming that it is mindless? If we as parents, and the schools teach our children about love of country, and to carry themselves as citizens of our nation and of the world in a way that brings honor to the United States, is that not an ideal worth pledging allegiance to? There are a whole lot of Americans doing good work not just for our land, but for the world.

But, out of curiosity, what is your objection to the pledge based on, and why are you seemingly indifferent toward the flag?

Richard Marsh

Anonymous said...

About GOSH DAMNED time. Way to wake up Amherst

Anonymous said...

I understand it is a common practice in other American communities to fly extra flags on September 11, so it is good that Amherst is conforming to this. Not to glorify the day but to but to remind us all of sacrifice of public safety and firefighters. So when we wait in security lines that there is a reason for it.

Anonymous said...

Great job Larry. I haven't done much reading on this, but correct me if I am wrong, please. I live in Amherst, and while I agree with your cause, I also think the Town has taken more flack on this than I think is warranted, either because of misinformation or by making opinions based on headlines. Again; they should be called out for the lack of common sense here.

As far as I know, the Town DOES fly the flag and even does some type of dedication or moment of silence every 9/11. The issue here is about the additional 29 Commemorative Flags, correct?

For all the people who throw stones at the Town of Amherst, I'd be interested to see what other Towns do or do not fly additional flags on 9/11. I'm pretty sure I know of others that do not.

Larry Kelley said...

Yes the town flies a main town flag 24/7, 365 days a year, but then so does every other municipal entity in the state. The town always loweres that flag to half staff every 9/11, as has every other municipal entity in the state because it's a Presidential order.

And now the town will join most other surrounding cities and towns -- like Northampton, Belchertown, Sunderland, Southwick, Westfied, etc, in flying the additional Commemorative flags EVERY 9/11.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the narrative on this is that Amherst (prior to this vote) did not fly the American flag on 9/11. That is just not the case.

Larry Kelley said...

No, MY narrative has always been: does the town fly the same commemorative flags they fly on Memorial Day every 9/11? And the answer used to be "No".

One way or another said...

Fck em Larry.


Fck


them.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVX-voqWuwY


-Squeaky Squeaks

Anonymous said...

Thanks Larry,

September 11th, 2001 sucked big time. I often think of the peace we had prior. You can even hear it in those 90's songs on the radio, a lot more happy go lucky prior.

The only thing that sucked more was our nation's reaction to it, giving the terrorists exactly what they wanted....restrictions on the citizens.

If more folks simply tried to remember like you do vs. making us remember by systematically taking away our freedoms as Osama desired, we would be far better off and the terrorists could have lost.





Anonymous said...

Please name the two people who opposed this motion. They deserve to be publicized.

Larry Kelley said...

The motion passed unanimously.

Anonymous said...

Is the 9/11 memorial service held at the fire station actually held by "the town", or by the fire department? I always got the impression that it was held by the firefighters, but all are invited to attend.

Larry Kelley said...

Good point. Yes, the solemn ceremony is put on by the Fire Department but open to the general public.

And in the early years the attendance by higher ranking town officials could have been better.

Anonymous said...

You have no allegiance? Looks like nobody will be able to call you friend . Pity.

Anonymous said...

And next up: West Side Story coming to a High School near You!

Anonymous said...

Your skin crawls far too easily.

Anonymous said...

And incidentally, one pledges allegiance not merely to the flag, but more importantly, to the republic for which it stands. One nation. (Even though we all seem to want to divorce these days.)

Anonymous said...

As an atheist I skip the "under God" part (which was not part of the original Pledge) but I'm fine if other people say it. Now, if we can just have "liberty and justice for all"...

Anonymous said...

You mention God. I presume you're atheist. But I bet you spend the money with "In God We Trust" written on it. And I'm also willing to bet that you believe your inalienable rights come from the government.

Anonymous said...

Now if the pledge were only promoted again. No country is perfect. God knows.

Anonymous said...

4:16, you win that bet; I do believe that our inalienable rights come from the government. Look around the world and tell me the US isn't better than most about rights for its citizens.

As far as "God" on U.S. currency, yep I spend it. Who cares - the word means no more to me than the one-eyed-pyramid also on the bills. And a paper bill itself is merely a medium of exchange nothing more. You probably drive a car that DOESN'T have the word "God" plastered all over it, does that make you an atheist? I don't think so. And you probably buy lots of things without the American flag on them - does that make you unpatriotic? Nope.

So don't try to call me a hypocrite for spending U.S. currency. I don't begrudge anybody their religious beliefs but I'm not offended by them unless they try to infringe on my right not to believe (or if they are running around killing innocent civilians, like ISIS or Andrew Jackson who is on our $20).

Anonymous said...

If your rights came from the government, they would not be inalienable.

Anonymous said...

The above post is correct. The Government takes away rights all the time so Rights, by definition, cannot therefore be unalienable. So there goes the Declaration of Independence.

Anonymous said...

Along with the Constitution. How often does this government on President Obama's watch, including the man himself subvert and circumvent the Constitution? Start with the Supreme Court. Since when do 5 men in black make the laws?

Anonymous said...

Nowhere. And they put that clerk in prison because she didn't uphold the Rule Of Law. The law, such as it is, was merely the political stance of the five Supreme Court justices who agreed with Kennedy. This itself is a complete subversion of the Rule If Law. And we're supposed to obey it? The Court has gone against the Constitution. And the sheep follow saying "it's the law now. It's the law. ". My God are we blind? Well, as long as it goes the way they want, nothing will be done. I don't blame that woman for refusing to recognize that Kennedy "law" regarding marriage. The Court has no business getting involved. The states should be the ones to decide. "But she went against the rule of law!" Well, wouldn't you if you were faced with a law you could not morally abide? 5 people in robes ...They make the law? Illegal! Unconstitutional!