RidingacademyTHE NEWS IS ESPECIALLY SAD, BECAUSE WE AND LOVING MOTHER HAD JUST LAST WEEK STARTED TO DEBATE WHETHER TINY GIRL SHOULD TAKE RIDING LESSONS THERE, OR WHETHER THE IDEA WAS SILLY BEYOND ALL MEASURE

According to today's New York Post:

"Claremont Riding Academy on the Upper West Side, a national historical site and the oldest continuously operated stable in the country, is closing down for lack of business."

WHEN SHOULD YOUR FLAG DIP?

050905flaghalf_0019Has there been a more interesting minor subplot to the war in Iraq than the frank criticism from U.S. soldiers, in their blogs and commentaries, about the ongoing actions in that country, and in Afghanistan? A Times piece this weekend revealed that today's soldiers are linked to the homeland to such an extent that bases routinely go into blackout mode after the deaths of troops:

    The soldier checked a roster and discovered that the fallen American was Corporal Tillman. Had he wanted to share the news outside the tactical operations center, doing so would have been difficult. “The phones and Internet had been cut off, to prevent anyone from talking about the incident,” he told investigators. . . . Several Army officers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan told The A.P. that pulling the plug on base phones and e-mail was routine after a soldier died. The practice is meant to ensure that the family is notified through official channels. . .

And then there are the columns like the one just written by a sergeant at the Bagram military base near Kabul:

I find it ironic that the flags were flown at half-staff for the young men and women who were killed at [Virginia Tech], yet it is never lowered for the death of a U.S. service member. . . . I think it is sad that we do not raise the bases’ flag to half-staff when a member of our own task force dies. . . . If the flags on our (operating bases) were lowered for just one day after the death of a service member, it would show the people who knew the person that society cared, the American people care.”             [Full text available from - no kidding - Fox News.]

The Web is full of similar commentaries today, many of them from citizens who don't believe the killings in Blacksburg, tragic as they were, merit the President's order to lower flags nationwide to half-mast this week.
And technically, they're absolutely correct:

". . . the President shall order the flag flown at half-staff for stipulated periods 'upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a state, territory, or possession.' . . . . Presidents also have ordered the fly to be flown at half-staff on the death of leading citizens, not covered by law, as a mark of official tribute to their service to the United States.  Martin Luther King, Jr. is among those who have been so honored."

So what's the point here, other than our coming out of the closet as a serious Flag Code geek? When you have a young child, you by necessity begin to see your community through their eyes, and kids are always alert to the presence of American flags. Kids notice when flags are missing, or at half-mast, faster than adults do. Which makes sense: Their world is smaller, so subtle differences in the neighborhood register with them more readily; plus, they can "read" the flag better than many other symbols. As parents, we need to be prepared to field questions about the flag, whether it's up, down, or at half-mast. Now, don't be alarmed: You haven't accidentally stumbled upon the Daily Kos; we're not saying that the administration's restrictions on flying flags at half-mast for the deaths of soldiers (states can do so if they choose, but that practice is also controversial) represent a conspiracy to keep parents from talking about the cost of war with their kids, but it is a byproduct. How many of us would be prepared to discuss the war(s) with our four-year-olds if the flag over the Post Office was constantly shifting from standard position to half-mast? In any event, the President is letting us all off the hook on that question, although good luck explaining to your kids why the flag is halfway down this week; we certainly haven't said a word to Fellow and Tiny about Virginia Tech.

TV-TURNOFF WEEK IS HERE

Today is the first day of TV-Turnoff Week. It snuck up on us a bit here, but even if it hadn't, there's a Red Sox -Yankee series coming up this weekend, so no way we'd be able to observe it here fully. But we absolutely plan to set a No-TV Week later this spring, before the end of school, and for anyone out there who's considering similar action, we hope you'll consider the startling success we had with a No-TV Week last year (read about it here and here) and try it out yourself. You don't need to believe the researchers who claim that no child under two should ever see a TV, or that extended viewing causes autism, or in fact any of the dire  warnings, to appreciate the benefits of a week without the distraction—or option—of television.

April 24, 2007 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS

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