I lowered the flag today…

By On

​I lowered our American flag to half-staff this afternoon, per the proclamations of our president and governor, to honor and in respect to those murdered and wounded last night in Las Vegas. I lowered the flag on the 100 foot Veterans flagpole in Fairhaven, with the very large 15 by 25 foot flag. Brand new. We raised it for the first time on Saturday noon, when we lowered and removed the huge summer flag of 20 by 38 feet.

As I was cranking the flag down, it was just a very weird and awful feeling that came over me. 44 turns of the crank to bring it to our designated half-staff location. It is a good feeling when the lowering is to honor a senator who had died after a life time of service, or a soldier who volunteered to serve in the line of danger and is killed while obeying their orders. For years, lowering the flag for those we honor for their service to our country is a sad but still good feeling. We are thanking them and we are showing their loved ones that they were important to our country.

It is right, in my opinion, that we lower in respect for the victims of this awful mass killing by this deranged man with 23 rifles and guns in his hotel room last night. They were enjoying the best of American entertainment - an outdoor music concert - in the capital of American entertainment, Las Vegas. We pay them respect as a first thing, a symbolic gesture, that we can give for them. But the feeling of it being so awful to be lowering the flag for such a tragedy only stopped when I stopped cranking. Friday at sunset we will raise it back to the top of the pole.

Yes, I’ve a message, a telegram. Actually two. First, it is contradictory for our friends on the right to say we should not talk of gun control so soon after this tragedy when they, immediately after killings by Middle Eastern persons, demand that all non citizens from the Middle East be expelled. It is appropriate to discuss possible solutions anytime and especially when we are most aware of a problem. Second, I wish that those on the right who apply a strict interpretation to the first amendment would apply a stricter interpretation to the second amendment. The second amendment has a conditional clause that our friends on the right ignore because they want the right to guns to be unlimited. The militia clause was put there for a very good reason - so as to allow control of guns.

But it will not happen. I will be lowering the flag again for a senseless shooting of many people by some guy who wants to go out being crazy. By the way, most mass killings in the USA are by white men who were born and raised here and are citizens.

About John Servais

Writer • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Dick Conoboy

Oct 03, 2017
John, Yes, the 2nd Amendment was nothing more than a sop to the southern states so that they could keep the militias (AKA bands of thugs) they had whose purpose

John,

Yes, the 2nd Amendment was nothing more than a sop to the southern states so that they could keep the militias (AKA bands of thugs) they had whose purpose was to suppress slave rebellions.  I am for the repeal of this amendment but at 74 I doubt that I will ever see such a sane move.

More on the 2nd Amendment here.

David Camp

Oct 03, 2017
@Dick - your comment is at best a half-truth. Militias were how the early New England settlers organized themselves for mutual self-defence. Consider Ethan Allen as exemplary: he volunteered for

@Dick - your comment is at best a half-truth.

Militias were how the early New England settlers organized themselves for mutual self-defence. Consider Ethan Allen as exemplary: he volunteered for militia service in 1757 to defend from the French siege of Fort WIlliam Henry. Later he formed the Green Mountain Boys to defend Vermont’s interests against those of predatory New York capital. The Green Mountain Boys later formed part of the revolutionary army, capturing Fort Ticonderoga in a daring raid. The Green Mountain Boys were instrumental in the formation of the Vermont Republic and defending its interests until a negotiated settlement with New York permitted Vermont to join the Union.

Without the militia form of organization, Vermont, and I daresay, these United States, would not exist. 

Yes there are people who own a completely unnecessary number of guns - back when the second amendment was written, a single rifle may have been a man’s most expensive possession and owning an arsenal was a practical impossibility. Yes some limits on gun ownership are reasonable without infringing the right to bear arms. But making historically-inaccurate and divisive arguments such as yours does not help, IMHO.

Dick Conoboy

Oct 03, 2017
David,   Did you read Hartmann’s piece?   It had nothing to do with the  northern state militias.  Nobody from the northern states was asking for

David,

 

Did you read Hartmann’s piece?   It had nothing to do with the  northern state militias.  Nobody from the northern states was asking for the second amendment.

David Camp

Oct 04, 2017
Dick - Yes I did. It speaks only to the motivations of the slave States. You claim that only they wanted State militias for the nefarious purpose of keeping the

Dick - Yes I did. It speaks only to the motivations of the slave States. You claim that only they wanted State militias for the nefarious purpose of keeping the slaves in captivity. Your implicit conclusion is that the second amendment was motivated solely by the needs of the slave States.

This is historically incorrect- which is my point - every State had organized militias and all signed on to the Bill of Rights, including abolitionist States. Your statement “nobody from the northern  States was asking for the second amendment” is a flat out wrong. The war of independence was won mostly by militiamen from the various States - I gave the example of Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys but there are many others. And certainly Vermont was not alone in wanting State control of their militias - otherwise the State of Vermont would probably not exist.

Finally, here’s a question - when were the State militias federalized into the National Guard? Wasn’t it not until the Eisenhower administration? HOw can that be if only the slave States wanted State militias?

Dick Conoboy

Oct 04, 2017
David, It was the southern states that demanded the 2nd amendment as a condition for signing the constitution.  There was no such demand from the northern states as they

David,

It was the southern states that demanded the 2nd amendment as a condition for signing the constitution.  There was no such demand from the northern states as they were not afraid that if their militias (yes the North had militias)  were subsumed they would not have in-house thugs to put down slave rebellions…they had NO slaves.  This was a property rights issue (slavery) that the North could give a shit about. 

This is not a divisive argument.  It is history.

 

David Camp

Oct 04, 2017
Dick - the article says the slave States demanded a STATE-regulated militia as a modification to the second amendment. Before this modification, the second amendment referred to a federally-regulated militia.

Dick - the article says the slave States demanded a STATE-regulated militia as a modification to the second amendment. Before this modification, the second amendment referred to a federally-regulated militia. The northern States accepted this change to the second amendment. The key aspect is it guarantees the right to bear arms because a well-regulated militia is desirable. This applies equally to all States. The motivation of the slave States to change to State regulation is no doubt as you say, but it is not the whole story. All States had militias - it was how the revolutionary army was raised, after all - the Founders wanted to enshrine that they would be regulated. 

In any event, the State militias have been federalized in the fifties, extending the slow creep of the federalists into every aspect of governance. Consider the utter abuse of the National Guard in prosecuting an illegal war of aggression in Iraq in 2003. The Guard is supposed to be for national defense - not for imperial wars benefiting one or other satrapy of the empire.

 

Michael Riordan

Oct 07, 2017
Actually, Dick, the northern states DID have slaves, as far north as Massachusetts and perhaps even farther north. A science historian colleague of mine wrote articles about slavehoding in Northampton,

Actually, Dick, the northern states DID have slaves, as far north as Massachusetts and perhaps even farther north. A science historian colleague of mine wrote articles about slavehoding in Northampton, Massachusetts, for example. But I’m sure the practice withered away well before 1860, and there were no Massachusetts militias deputized to track down runaways.

David Camp

Oct 07, 2017
Michael - the Vermont Republic outlawed adult slavery in 1777, its formative year. On joining the Union as the 14th State in 1791, it was  subject to the Fugitive Slave Act,

Michael - the Vermont Republic outlawed adult slavery in 1777, its formative year. On joining the Union as the 14th State in 1791, it was  subject to the Fugitive Slave Act, and obliged to return escaped slaves from slave States to their owners. A bit of historic irony.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_slavery_in_Vermont

Michael Riordan

Oct 08, 2017
If I recall correctly, slaveholding occurred in Northhampton through the 1700s and died out or was outlawed in the early 1800s. But I’m not sure on this, just remembering

If I recall correctly, slaveholding occurred in Northhampton through the 1700s and died out or was outlawed in the early 1800s. But I’m not sure on this, just remembering the article I read years ago.

David Camp

Oct 08, 2017
Yup - the 1777 census of VT lists a grand total of 19 slaves, almost all in Bennington.  Culturally, VT is about as far from a slave State as possible -

Yup - the 1777 census of VT lists a grand total of 19 slaves, almost all in Bennington.  Culturally, VT is about as far from a slave State as possible - my VT grandfather had a job in Tennessee in the ‘20’s and was shocked and appalled by the institution of Jim Crow. He said he never got used to walking on the sidewalk and having a black man coming from the other direction automatically stepping off the sidewalk for him.

Michael Riordan

Oct 08, 2017

Maybe Bellingham and Burlington should become sister cities!

Steve Harris

Oct 09, 2017
Although it doesn’t end the National debate on the 2nd Amendment to the US Constituition, our own WA State Constitution should end the needless debate here in our home

Although it doesn’t end the National debate on the 2nd Amendment to the US Constituition, our own WA State Constitution should end the needless debate here in our home state (but it won’t)....

Article I, Section 24  - Right to Bear Arms: The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.

 

Steve Harris

Oct 09, 2017
Quite frankly, the SCOTUS rulings on what is a “right” vs. what is a “privilege” has rendered the actual words of the Declaration of Independence almost

Quite frankly, the SCOTUS rulings on what is a “right” vs. what is a “privilege” has rendered the actual words of the Declaration of Independence almost meaningless.  We declared, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.“  The truth of America today is that we really have no “unalienable” rights, only privileges.”  We don’t even have a right to live…“Life” in America is a privilege that can be taken away via the death penalty if you violate certain laws enacted by The People; or, in the case of abortion, terminated before even one breath is taken.   I’m not trying to make a case “for” or “against” either abortion or the death penalty, but think that we, as American’s, need some serious introspection on what we consider a “right”....

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