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Of Flags and Banners
2024-04-03

            Nearly all of us have a special group or cause we are proud to be a part of.  Here at the office of the Town and Country we display three different flags; the flag of Montgomery County, the Pennsylvania State flag, and, of course, Old Glory.

            Not that we can't or won't subscribe to others, these three are fine and help to reflect the responsibility of a local newsroom.

            I am not offended by the display of another's beliefs that are shown on a piece of cloth.  I may agree or disagree with the cause but I am not offended.  And, I would not offend you or embarrass myself by automatically implying that I know everything about the cause and demand you remove the banner. Doing so walks a fine line through the First Amendment. 

            Besides, we can disagree and still be friends.  We just walk different paths after we depart.  I won't force my views on you and your family and I expect the same courtesy from you.

            Before you make demands of an image that may offend you because it symbolizes this or embodies that, know that unless the subject of the flag is being forced on others, it's just a symbol.   

            An example of quick judgment happened just last week.

            On Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people died and thousands more injured when terrorists crashed two passenger jets into the World Trade Center towers.  Hundreds more have died or are ailing from the long-term effects of those attacks.

            In the East Village section of Manhattan, Ladder 11 of the Fire Department of New York lost six firefighters that day.  For years after they displayed a memorial sign on the back of the truck that bore the names of the six fallen firefighters. Above the sign was the flag of the United States with one thin red line highlighted upon it.

            According to a report, on March 22, a man claiming he was a staffer for Democratic Manhattan Councilwoman Carlina Rivera confronted firefighters at Ladder Co. 11. He called it a fascist symbol.  After the confrontation, a local government official questioned fire department officials about whether the flag was a politically charged symbol.

            It was 23 years ago and I guess both the complainant and official were just children back then.  But over 23 years, wouldn't you think they would have learned about the horror of that day?

            The firefighters were ordered to remove the flag to avoid conflict or controversy. They removed the symbol of remembrance and honor for those firefighters who died that day.

            One complaint and the memorial displayed on Ladder 11 for years was now gone. 

            A few hours after the order was given to remove the flag, and after a deluge of backlash from phone calls, emails, and social media from a shocked public, the order was reversed and the flag put back up on Ladder 11, atop the names of the firefighters.

            Honoring heroes who died protecting others is not a fascist or politically charged symbol.  Just like many other flags and banners.


 

 

 

 

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