Unflagging patriotism

Terrorism Strikes America

September 15, 2001|By Dan Rodricks

Suddenly they're everywhere again - as they were during the Persian Gulf War and during the hostage crisis in Iran before that - and in bigger numbers than on the Fourth of July.

In some Baltimore neighborhoods, flags fly all year. But now it's the not-given-to-display Americans who bought a flag or pulled one out of the basement - a simple and silent way to display patriotism, solidarity and defiance in the days since Tuesday's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

It's not so much flag waving as fundamental flag flying - in a flower box, on the front lawn, on a porch railing.

They lay soggy and heavy in yesterday morning's rain against the side of tall buildings in downtown Baltimore. They sprouted from urns filled with dying petunias. Mounted on car antennas and on roofs where Ravens flags once flew, they quivered in the breezes of commuter traffic of the Jones Falls Expressway. One now adorns the Light Rail barn near North Avenue, visible from the JFX.

On Fayette Street yesterday, a woman made her way through traffic, one hand holding the hand of a little girl in a plastic raincoat, the other holding two flags on sticks.

In Rodgers Forge, Ron Covington is something of a local legend for his skill as a balloon artist - he's a plumber in real life - and he usually decorates his yard with massive air-filled sculptures to celebrate holidays, especially Halloween and Easter. This week he and his wife, Lisa, had a scare: Their 22-year-old son, Chris, had been in transit Tuesday morning from Japan and, for seven hours after the terrorist attacks, they did not know his whereabouts or if he was safe.

When they finally heard the good news - personal relief at the foot of a mountain of tragedy - they did what so many Americans did: They reached for some way to display their feelings.

Their son arrived back at Dumbarton Road Thursday night, and there were 34 flags along the front walk.

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