By Brian Knox
Originally published Thursday, September 27, 2001
With all of the tragic stories we’ve been hearing over the past two weeks, I’ve tried to look at some of the good to come out of all this.
The most obvious positive sign I’ve seen is the display of patriotism and support shown by all of the United States flags that have been flying (and money drives) nearly everywhere you look. It is great to see how much pride we all suddenly have for our country, even though it took a great loss of lives to make us realize that.
This time of tragedy has brought out the best, and also unfortunately the worst, Americans have to offer.
I was reminded of that Monday morning when I went to the Boyd Intermediate School to take a photo.
The students spent the past Saturday washing cars, hosting a garage and bake sale and collecting donations.
The day was an overwhelming success, as the kids raised nearly $3,000 that will be donated to the American Red Cross for the disaster relief effort.
Principal Anke Bracey was nearly gushing as she described how proud she was of her kids’ effort.
But the conversation took a disheartening turn when she described something that happened the day after the fund-raiser.
Last Thursday, the school received new U.S. flags for their classrooms. Instead of throwing out the older flags, the school decided to show their patriotism by displaying the flags along a fence in front of the school. Anybody who went to the fund-raiser on Saturday was sure to see the sight of 20 United States flags hanging proudly at the school.
But when students and teachers arrived at school Monday morning, all but one United States flag had been stolen.
The school contacted the Wise County Sheriff’s Office and they are currently investigating the thefts.
My thought is this: why would somebody do something like this?
Did the person, or persons, who did this want a flag of their own? If so, they defeat the purpose of proudly displaying the flag.
Did the culprit want to take the flags and resell them to make money? If so, that is truly disrespectful to our country.
The most likely reason for stealing the flags is probably as a prank. I don’t see anybody laughing, though. At a time when our nation is trying to come together in a show of solidarity, a stunt such as that is truly ill-timed.
This is the second such occurrence I’ve seen in Wise County since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and I suspect there are more that I am unaware of.
Less than two days after the attack, John Juarez of Bridgeport woke up to find that his family’s large United States flag on display on their front porch had been sliced up by vandals. All that was left was a narrow strip of the left side of the flag. The flag had belonged to a World War II veteran and had been a permanent fixture at the Lion’s Club boxing gym where John had taught.
That story had somewhat of a happy ending, though. A man by the name of Lee Dennis drove by and saw the family’s plight. He went home and loaned the Juarez one of his own flags. As a show of symbolism, Juarez also hung the piece of the destroyed flag on the porch underneath a sign that said, “Vandals destroyed our flag, but not our faith.”
The flags themselves probably aren’t worth a whole lot as far as monetary value. But as one of the men who presented the students at Boyd Intermediate with their new flags said Thursday, the flag is a symbol, and the meaning of that flag is determined by the individual. Each person must decide what that flag means to him or her on a personal level.
I wish those people who had stolen the flags had taken even a moment to think about that. Maybe they will.
Look for more of WCMessenger.com’s special 9/11 tribute at www.wcmessenger.com/911.