The flag of the United States flies at the top of the pole.
Except on days of memorial and grief, when the nation bows its head, the American flag flies high and proud.
It has always been that way. Flags are lowered in submission, and in surrender, and in retreat. But in a free and noble land, where the flag is loved and understood, it snaps in the breeze from atop the highest pole. It is a literal raising of the colors and a proclamation of pride and sovereignty.
Even on Memorial Day, when we count the cost of our liberty, the flag flies at half staff only until noon, and is then raised briskly and powerfully to the top of the pole, to resume its rightful and victorious place.
In classrooms all across America, for a century and more, at our youngest and most earnest, we have pledged our allegiance to the flag and – most specifically – to the Republic for which it stands. A Republic created by and defined in the Constitution of the United States.
The flag is the symbol of the country, not just on the battlefield or at sporting events, but in the hearts of the living millions and the millions who have gone before. We swear our oaths before it, we hold our courts in its shadow, we bury our dead beneath it.
And every morning we raise it.
Except in New York.
Except in New York where, for apparently the longest period in American history, the flag of the United States is being flown indefinitely at half staff.
The flag code – Title 4, United States Code, Chapter 1 – says that presidents, governors and mayors may order the flag lowered temporarily as a token of mourning in death. The maximum time prescribed by law is 30 days, to mark the death of a president of the United States.
That’s what Lincoln got. That’s what Kennedy got.
A rubric then declares shorter periods of mourning for other, subordinate officers of the federal or state government, members of the military and first responders.
That is the law and custom of the United States. It is a system founded in respect, most particularly respect for the flag and all it represents.
That’s how Americans do it.
But New York isn’t quite American anymore.
Under an all-powerful and whimsically tyrannical Andrew Cuomo, New York has become a plaything, with the lives and needs of its residents reduced to baubles he can harass and crush at will, mostly for his own amusement. Rights and traditions and symbols have become trees upon which he can piss, marking his turf and asserting his dominance.
And so it is that the flag of the United States has flown, by gubernatorial order, at half staff in New York since April 8, nearly four times the maximum allowed in federal law. And there is no end in sight.
Andrew Cuomo declared on April 8 that, in honor of those who had died of covid, the American flag would hang in a lowered position until the end of the “New York Pause.” That is a phrase which has not been actively used by the governor or the state since the middle of May. Its provisions have all been subsumed in the ad hoc, order-of-the-day nature of the governor’s leadership style.
Anything can change at any time for any reason at the dictate of the governor.
Bars can open but they really can’t. Chicken wings are food but they’re not but maybe sometimes they are. You can’t visit people in nursing homes, but now you can though really you can’t. Strip clubs can open to 50 percent capacity and churches can open to 33 percent capacity. Indian casinos have been open for two months – with not a single resultant covid case – but non-Indian casinos are too dangerous to reopen. Gyms cannot reopen under any circumstance.
And the flag still flies at a position of submission.
Because Andrew Cuomo says so.
At a time when, for reasons of plague, economic difficulty and racial strife, the flag of the United States could be a uniting theme around which to rally, it suffers in New York stunted halfway up the pole. Its eleventh stripe from the top represents New York, but in New York it is not today honored.
Which may not be surprising from a governor who said America “was never that great,” and whose Google Images file shows thousands of pictures without a flag lapel pin, including when he was secretary of Housing and Urban Development and an officer of the federal government.
As a man positioning himself to be the leader of a progressive movement hostile to the notion of patriotism, and antagonistic toward America’s history and heritage, maybe his lingering disrespect to the flag isn’t an accident.
If it doesn’t fly high in his heart, perhaps his reasoning goes, it won’t fly high in New York skies either.
But rather hang submissive and humiliated, at his order.
As a distracted and submissive people either don’t notice or don’t dare speak up.
This isn’t about honoring the dead of a disease, it’s about disrespecting the spirit of a nation.
It’s time for the flags to move to the top of the pole. It’s time for New York to rejoin the Republic.
It’s time for this reign of caprice to end.