It’s a Grand Old Flag

I normally exercise indoors, as part of my general pandemic-related isolation.

However, today I decided to walk around the neighborhood instead. I had to go outside anyway, to mail a letter. I figured it was an opportunity to get some exercise into this sagging body that I’ve abused for a few decades.

I walk outside, only to discovered that they’re holding a parade.

No, it wasn’t for me. It was Nyack’s annual Fire Chief Parade. (It’s still going on as I type this!) It wasn’t entirely a surprise. I heard the drums outside before I left my apartment.

In fact, over the 34 years I’ve lived in Nyack, I’ve occasionally heard the sounds of a parade going along my street. But this was the first time I’d seen it. Maybe if I live here another 34 years I’ll see it again.

I was already outside, I had the letter to mail in my hand, and I was wearing a KN95 mask. I decided to go ahead with my plans to walk along my usual route, even though that was the same street as the parade.

Then I saw the first of many American flags being carried aloft as part of the parade.

Yes, I’m a tree-hugging commie socialist pinko whose heart is weeping daily as I watch my nation slide into autocracy. I’m also aware of the injustices that our nation has committed in the past against indigenous peoples, the transport of the unwilling into slavery, and the oppression of those who are willing to come into our nation to do the most menial of work.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t be proud of what America can represent. As a reliable Goddess once told me, “Keep pure your highest ideal.”

So as the flag passed me by, I took off my hat and held it over my heart in salute.

(Those of you who know me personally know that I wear a hat when I go outside. It’s not religious or anything like that. It’s a custom I developed back in the 1990s that I’ve kept to this day.)

As I walked along the parade route, I encountered many more flags. As I passed by, I continued to take off my hat in respect to each flag. Sometimes this was a bit tricky, as I also was doing the “social-distancing dance” with the parade-watchers who lined the street.

I walked my usual mile to the end of the street, turned around, and walked another mile back. Since I was now walking in the same direction as the parade, I passed by a flag less often. I continued to salute as appropriate.

I was walking along the street at the typical “breathy but can still talk” speed recommended by the exercise experts. The parade was going at the usual slow parade march. Even so, I was only barely waddling faster than the firefighters and sheriffs were walking. Such is the price of too many cheeseburgers.

For my Ren Faire friends: No, I didn’t “smile and wave” and shout “A parade doth pass thee by!” It didn’t seem the place for it. Also, I was pretty much the only person around wearing a mask. I really didn’t want to hang around these folks more than I could help.

Did anyone notice my salutes? I don’t think so. It doesn’t matter. I felt a need to show my appreciation for our nation’s highest ideals.

Now it’s up to the nation to show that it’s worthy of respect.

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