Social and Political Commentary

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Retirement of the flags

... speaking of symbolism

by Carol Nelson

I was at the Melrose Library recently and came upon a plastic crate filled with torn and tattered American flags. At first I thought what a great installation art project they would make: swirled and mingled together in their ravaged condition, in a large lucite box frame and hung on a stark wall. What feelings might they inspire?

Betsy Ross, herself, could not repair these worn symbols of our country. So they are to be burned and then buried on the next appropriate holiday. Respected even in this sad state of disuse, I must assume that the flag's fabric, or even portions of it, remain symbolic as they did when they flew outside Melrose homes and homes all across this country.

This said, I still envision them as art, provoking thought and emotion. They were, and are, a metaphor to me. Now, they represent our country torn: loss of jobs and homes, loss of privacy and civil rights, loss of trust in government. And today, I was stunned to hear that the number of suicides of our veteran soldiers is1 6,256 of 24,000,000 in 2005! How can this be? This horrific number was obtained over a 5 month investigation by my source CBS. It is unbelievable, but is it easier to swallow that 4,037 have been killed and 29,628 who were wounded in Iraq? Why? Why?

Burning the flags is easy. Making art of them would be, at least, a reminder. Fixing them is impossible. It is time for new beginnings. It is time to end this war. It is time to end war.

1A recent report from the VA supports this number.
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May 2, 2008

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