An older couple, not as older as an "older couple" used to be, but maybe 10 or 15 years older than I am now; and living in a quiet squared up neighborhood of modest ranch homes in a small Midwestern town. They did fairly well over the years it seems for at some point they put in a nice above-ground pool with the commensurate deck and tall privacy fence. He was a small time entrepreneur and now their four daughters are running the business. She now watches the growing gang of Grandchildren as needed.
I was there to make the little garden shed a bit more maintenance free and as I wrapped all of the exposed wood with white aluminum, I listened to the neighborhood.
One guy was sitting on his back deck making financial decisions over the phone. Some birds were decorating the vicinity with song, while the elementary school just across the street was making its regularly scheduled contributions to the tonal culture: Loud bells, quiet, more bells, kids shouting and laughing, bells, different kids yelling and playing, bells again, quiet.
The wind was fairly strong that day. I had to keep an eye on my coil stock to make sure it didn't rattle off across the imaginary line in the connected lawns. The wind was also playing with the family's American flag as it hung over my head on a fifteen foot pole. Not that I could watch it as I worked, but I was listening.
Like the annoying squeak that even a master guitarist can not always avoid making as he slides his fingers up and down the strings, the display of patriotism sometimes requires a certain endurance. As the flag spreads and then sinks with the wind, its hardware, the clips on the halyard , swing and clang against the pole. It's not the beautiful ring of a tuned wind chime, but a definite clink and a hard clunk that must be suffered. This noisome portion of the symbol can not be rightly separated from the beautiful stars and stripes. American reality joins the splendor and majesty of high ideals with the conflict and turmoil of debate and consternation. Our foundational agreement is not that we will all agree, but that we will continually strive to find the optimal policies for the good of all.
To paraphrase the First Amendment:
To enjoy my freedoms, I will endure yours.
To worship my God, I will have considered yours.
To have my say, I will listen to yours.
To believe in my facts, I will first test yours.
To stand with the flag, I must be patient while its underpinnings clang.