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NO NO POLITICS TODAY: What I Learned at the Base of a Flagpole

The Mo Mo Politics Column: Having a connection to politics, and the community at large, often contributes to a sense of “larger purpose.” If our work doesn’t provide us with meaning and purpose, we can engage ourselves in the world around us.

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When my parents moved from their cramped two bedroom, upper East Side of Manhattan apartment in 1959, with their four children, to a spacious two bedroom house in the country (New Jersey), my mother would walk around the house at night feeling like she had died and gone to heaven. Having lived both their lives till this point in Manhattan, it was the fulfillment of a dream, a home of their own. My mother planted lilacs, rose bushes, birch trees, mint plants and black-eyed Susan’s. My father, erected a steel flagpole, anchored in cement in the front yard of our home.

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It was at the base of that flagpole that my siblings and I learned what it meant to be a citizen of the United States. The flag, he told us, was more than a piece of cloth with stars and stripes. It represented the sacrifice and bloodshed of men like my father and their wives and children to preserve our nation, from the Revolutionary War to the present day. We learned that the flag should never touch the ground, we learned how to raise and lower it, how to place it at half-mast, how to fold it, how to cherish it for what it represented. The day my brother graduated from high school my mother, thinking it appropriate, raised the flag, while my father was at work. When he came home he chastised her and took it down, reminding her that it should only be flown on official national holidays.

My father served in the U.S. Navy, on a destroyer in World War II, in the Pacific. Kamikaze pilots attacked his ship. He was just 16 years old when he enlisted. He taught us that to be a citizen meant sacrifice, sometimes it meant the ultimate sacrifice.

At the base of that flagpole I grew to love my country, to truly understand what it means to be a citizen of this nation, formed by our founding fathers and mothers with the hopes and dreams of a free people who controlled their own destiny by governing themselves.

Celebrate on this, the Fourth of July, the day of our Declaration of Independence; you have the freedom to do that in any way you choose. At some point during this day, remember our flag, what it represents and the many sacrifices that have been made on your behalf.

See yas’, next week for Mo Mo Politics.

Mo B.

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