A few Saturdays ago I was catching up on work at the office- the Northeastern University Marine Science Center on the tip of the Nahant peninsula. Outside it was cold and ferociously windy. I heard a surprising knock at the front door and walked around to check it. There was a distraught man holding a loosely folded American Flag. He said,
"This was on the pole, ripped. You shouldn't let it get like that, it's shameful. I took it down for you."
I was thinking, "Chill out, dude. The thing probably just ripped today because it's so windy, and nobody has noticed yet because the office is closed for the weekend." But I tried to be contrite and thankful. I said,
"Oh, um, thanks. I'm sorry about that. I actually don't know who maintains our flag but I'll, uh, take it in and put it on our secretary's desk, I guess, until we can dispose of it right on Monday."
It was a reasonably polite exchange, but awkward nevertheless, on account of our different levels of concern for the flag. My level of concern was on par with how I'd feel about a tipped over address post at the end of someone's driveway. I.e., "That's kind of tacky, but it can probably wait until the owners notice and fix it." Whereas his level of concern was like if there was a gushing fire hydrant at the end of the driveway. I.e., "This is a very serious problem that I must address now."
I have a strong patriotic feeling for the USA, which I think is a beautiful country with wonderful people, freedom and fairness worth fighting for, and a good-looking, star-spangled flag. I just don't make a very tight connection between caring for the flag and caring for the country. Should I? What do y'all think?