Sometimes, the American flag hoisted in front of the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad will fly at half mast. I assume it's to honor the memory of a volunteer who lost his or her life in the line of duty. This happens fairly frequently, though, and since this is the most visible American flag on our side of town, catching the eye as we pull into the Shopping Center, it can give a sense that the nation is repeatedly in mourning. A few weeks ago, the flag was remaining at half mast for a number of days running, and I finally stopped by to ask for some background. Turned out to be in honor of an officer who had lost his life somewhere else in the country.
Though I didn't express any opinion, they raised the flag back up within the hour, as if they'd forgotten how long it had been at half mast.
This raises the question of how to rightly honor those who risk their lives to protect us, without it beginning to seem, particularly in an election year, like a political statement that the nation is on the wrong course.
Might some other flag be flown at half mast for those times of mourning?
A few days later, I stopped by a friend's house and noticed his neighbor was flying the Thin Blue Line, which, according to Wikipedia, "is a symbol used by law enforcement, originating in the United Kingdom but now prevalent in the United States and Canada to commemorate fallen and to show support for the living law enforcement officers and to symbolize the relationship of law enforcement in the community as the protectors of fellow civilians from criminal elements. It is an analogy to the term Thin Red Line."
Flying this flag, or something like it that included rescue squads, either on its own pole or beneath the American flag, would make more clear what and who is being mourned.
As a bit of an aside, I later noticed a flag just down the street, relevant here because it, too, is a variation on a theme. Turns out it's La Senyera Estelada, an unofficial flag generally waved in Barcelona and elsewhere by supporters of Catalonia's independence from Spain. It's modeled after the flags of Puerto Rico and Cuba, which gained independence from Spain in 1898 and 1902 respectively.