Friday, November 9, 2012

Your Neighbor's Flag

On late Tuesday afternoon after the outskirts of Sandy dealt a glancing blow to the Washington area, the power was still out.   We'd get it back soon, and the damage to our little corner of the DC 'burbs was modest compared to the hardship further north, but there was still damage.

That evening, as night was still falling, I walked to the bottom of our street.  I knew that a small army of contractors and Dominion power folks had gathered there, ready to work the night through if necessary to clear a huge fallen tree from the road and to rebuild several hundred yards of power line.   I wanted to check it out, and to see what progress was being made, and to kibbitz with neighbors.

Moving through the burgeoning dusk, I surveyed what the superstorm had done.

Here and there, large branches sat in yards.  A small tree lay wanly on its side.   The drone of generators still hung in the air, growing louder around every tenth house.

As I reached the end of our street, I saw a snapped flagpole in the front yard of a split-level.  The wind had torn and tugged and pulled at the flag all night, and that pole had failed.   Old Glory itself had fallen into the rose bushes by the side of the house, where it lay a twisted mess.

Also in front of the house, which sat quiet and dark, was a sign for a political candidate.  It was slightly askew from the storm's battering.  It was also not for the same candidate as the ones that had been in my front yard up until I moved them in anticipation of the storm.

I contemplated the scene for a moment, and then, overcoming my "don't mess with other people's stuff" programming, moved onto my neighbor's lawn.   There was clearly no-one home, as many folks without generators or functioning fireplaces had grown weary of the cold and gone to warmer and more illuminated places.

The pole had failed structurally, the light-grade aluminum still holding in one spot, but crumpled in on itself.   It was irreparable.  I fiddled with it a bit, seeing if perhaps I could get it to stand, but it was done.   The flag itself was tangled up mightily in one of the rose bushes, held fast and pierced through with thorns in a dozen places, as securely trapped as if it had been tacked to a cork board.

I took a few minutes to gently extricate it, carefully removing it from each of the thorns so as not to damage the faded fabric.  Then I propped the pole carefully and securely against the side of the house, making sure the flag was not touching the ground.

Seemed like the right thing to do.  There's no political exemption clause in the Law of Liberty, after all.