Flying tattered flag no sign of freedom

By Grant McGee: Local columnist

The Lady of the House and I were driving around Clovis last Saturday, checking out yard sales, when something caught my eye.

I won’t say where … it could be a house, it could be a business … but I saw the flag of the United States of America, literally in rags, flapping in the eastern New Mexico breeze. It was basically in a few horizontal strips, faded and tattered.

Now I don’t know who owns the property so I don’t know their motivation for leaving this remnant of a flag flying. Maybe years ago some revered family member ran The Colors up the pole and maybe that person is gone, so it stays up for sentimental reasons. Maybe the tattered flag is some form of protest. Maybe the owner just doesn’t care. Maybe he or she considers it art because art is supposed to make you think. And seeing that ragged standard of our country did make me think.

The first place I learned about flag care was in elementary school. In sixth grade I was made a patrol boy. I was part of a group that stood on street corners before and after school and watched kids cross the street. Another one of our duties was raising the U. S. flag in the morning and taking it down in the afternoon. We were instructed on proper care of the flag, how to fold it and such. We also learned to not let the flag touch the ground, when it was time to retire a flag and the proper disposal of a Star-Spangled Banner that had seen its better days.
Every time I hear “The Star-Spangled Banner” I think of how the song came to be written. It was 192 years ago and our homeland was under attack during The War of 1812. I visualize Francis Scott Key being held prisoner on a British ship on its way to attack Baltimore in September 1814. The Brits launched a bombardment against Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor. After a 25-hour siege, daybreak came and Old Glory was still flying over the battered fort. The sight of the huge, battle-ravaged flag flying in “the dawn’s early light” inspired Key to write a poem titled “The Defense of Fort McHenry.” Over the years the poem’s words became our National Anthem.

I think about these things because I’ve seen Fort McHenry National Monument. I’ve been to the Smithsonian Institution and seen the huge 15-star flag that Francis Scott Key saw that early September morning so many years ago. It’s gigantic. It has holes in it from foreign cannonballs and rockets. To me it gives off a kind of energy, a kind of drive, even a kind of determination.

Our flag means something to me. To sum it all up, every star on that banner represents a different state. Each state lobbied to be part of the Union. Every state represents hundreds of thousands, even millions, of different people and together we make hundreds of millions. And even though we may have different beliefs, politics and sometimes don’t even like each other, somehow we pull together and help each other when we need to.

Yep, she’s a grand old flag.

So maybe it isn’t any of my business about the Clovis property owner’s flag, but maybe they’d consider getting a new one.

If you’re going to fly Old Glory for folks to see, fly it proudly.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: