American flags have always been a big deal in our family. When I was kindergarten age, I had a small flag that I would put out first thing every morning. I remember crying because we were late getting home one night and I was sure the Flag Police would arrest me for not bringing the flag in when it got dark.
Mother flew flag almost every day
Mother’s flag wasn’t all-weather, and it wasn’t lighted at night, so she only put it during the day when it was pretty. It provided the perfect backdrop when her kin came to visit.
What’s with the tattered flag?
I put a flagpole in the front yard and bought an all-weather flag that is is lighted at night. I noticed the other day that it was starting to fade, so I made a mental note to replace it before long.
I went out to South Carolina to spend a week with Son Adam and his family. When I got back to Cape, I could see that a strong wind storm must have come through because the tarp over my carport was in tatters.
A couple days later, I noticed that my flag had a small hole in it. By the time I got a replacement ordered, it had grown in size.
I’m going to put up the new flag on Veterans Day to mark the sacrifices that have made it possible for that flag to wave in my front yard.
I’m sure Mother would be happy to see her flag tradition continues.
At the time, I remarked somberly (and maybe a little too dramatically) that I was afraid that flag was a symbol of this nation that was almost ripped apart, and hanging on by a thread.
I’m happy to say that my new flag is flying proudly from a unique flagpole I engineered, partially by accident.
That’s Bill and Rhonda Bolton’s house in the background on a fine Fall day. We always called it the Tinker House because Bob and Mary Tinker lived there for years. The Boltons have lived in it long enough that it’s probably time to rename the place.
How I made the flagpole
My previous flag was attached to a pole in front of the house. When the rose bushes got high, the flag would snag on the thorns. I figured I could solve that problem if I moved it out in the yard.
After scratching my head a bit, I went to the hardware store and discovered that a 10-foot length of 1-inch galvanized pipe would easily slip inside a 30-inch piece of 1-1/4-inch pipe sunk 24 inches into concrete.
I wanted to make it possible to back a trailer into the yard to get firewood, so this lets me take out the long pole and only leave the sleeve sticking out above the ground about six inches.
I drilled holes through both pipes with the intention of putting a bolt through them, but it was after dark when I finished, so I turned the flag and pole in the direction where I thought it would be best and went to bed.
Serendipity sets in
The next morning, I was surprised to see the flag in exactly opposite of the direction it was the previous night.
While I was standing there, a gust of wind rotated the whole pole. I was mesmerized. Figuring there was no way that pole was going to jump out of the sleeve, I decided to forgo the bolts and let it act as a weather vane.
Here’s what it looked like on a gusty day this week. The halo-looking thing at the top is a solar-powered LED array to light the flag at night. The flag sticks up so high that the porch dusk-to-dawn lights only hit the lower half of it.
To be honest, I’m not overly happy with the performance of the halo light, but it’s up there.
One other cool thing is that the pipes make a spooky moaning or groaning sound when they rotate more that about 25 degrees. I couldn’t figure out where the weird sound was coming from until one afternoon when I was outside loading the car and made the connection.
The 10-foot pole is rigid. The “bouncing” is caused by the play from the sleeve being larger than the pole. It’s not going anywhere.
Veterans Day is an appropriate time to show off my new flag.
This is a picture essay I shot for The Athens Messenger to run on November 11, 1968. You can click on the photos to make them larger.
The caption reads, Saturday, Glouster residents paused to honor Marine Cpl. Donald A. Campbell who was awarded the Silver Star for valor in Vietnam, where he died. Today, Veterans Day, the nation pauses to honor those men who fought in all her wars.
Ceremonies were way too common
My first assignment for The Athens Messenger on Sept. 17, 1969, was a routine grip-n-grin photo of a local serviceman being awarded a bunch of medals for his service in Vietnam.
That afternoon, I went back to City Hall to watch the mayor award the Bronze Star and Purple Heart to the parents of a boy who didn’t come back. As I looked at their expressions, I wondered how much they had aged since they received that knock on their door and looked out to see a somber-faced soldier on their stoop.
The lonely ride back home with a box of medals
The image I’ve never been able to get out of my mind is the one of them walking out to their car. On their ride home, they’re going to have a box of medals sitting where their son should have been.
It was a lot easier photographing soldiers than the parents, wives and siblings left behind.
This week, in particular, I needed to see the rows of American Flags flapping in the cool air against a blue sky punctuated with fluffy clouds. I got to North County Park just as the volunteers were starting to take the flags down before nightfall. This was taken with Nikon D-7000 equipped with an 18-55mm zoom lens covered with a circular polarizing filter. (Click on the photo to make it larger.)
Flags in motion
A guy directing traffic made an exception for me to drive by to capture this video from the top of the hill and headed down to the highway. The video is shot with my DOD Tech DOD-LS470W dash cam. It hangs under my rearview mirror with an AmorTek SnakeMount, a cool accessory that will fit just about any camera out there.
I picked this camera because it has great low light sensitvity, it has a built-in GPS, and comes with software that will let you merge your videos with an interactive map. That’s really handy when I try to figure out where I took a picture. (I also have to confess that I put those specific links in because if you click on them, then buy something from Amazon, I get a tiny piece of the action without it costing you anything extra.)