Time to raise the flag and the national spirit

Rally 'round: Banner's display aids recovery

local group works on memorial quilt for New York.

September 25, 2001

AS PRESIDENT Bush raised the American flag to full-staff Sunday at Camp David, the nation's official period of mourning ended.

But that doesn't have anything to do with people's emotions. For some, the 12 days for flying the national banner at half-staff weren't enough to display the country's grief and respect for the dead.

There is no prescribed length of time for lowering the U.S. flag in such circumstances. Protocol does call for 30 days after the death of a president, 10 days in the death of a vice president.

But Old Glory continues to rally the nation's spirits, a visible beacon of unity in this dark passage. Displaying the red, white and blue serves as a gesture of patriotism, a symbol of security and a means of coping with distress.

That's the force behind the run on flags nationwide, and the seemingly frantic efforts to find new and innovative ways to incorporate this symbol into our collective grieving.

Students at Carroll County Career and Technology Center are doing their part by patching together a memorial flag quilt they will give as a gift of support to the people of New York City.

The denim-bordered quilt features flags, stars and outlines of the city's skyline as it was before the terrorist destruction of Sept. 11. Members of the Westminster Senior Center helped in creating the patches that are being sewn together in an 8-foot-by-8-foot quilt to be sent to New York's mayor.

Messages of hope and remembrance and Bible verses are written on some patches. Hundreds of students at the Westminster school will sign the finished work.

"It is time for everyone to come together, like this quilt is coming together," explained one teen-ager working on the project.

With the flowering of flags, there have been a few sad reactions. Thefts of flags from mailboxes and lawns have been reported. A Boca Raton, Fla., firm banned flags from employee desks as "divisive" and offensive. Some debated whether flag display meant a call to war.

But the American flag remains the rallying point for the nation. In raising the national banner to full-staff, the president signaled that it is time as well for the United States to lift our hearts and spirits.

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