Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day: Flags, Bunting & a Touch of Irony

Memorial Day, I am sure, has lost much of its meaning for large numbers of Americans. Certainly as compared to someone like my mother, who recalls tearful ceremonies honoring men who died in WWI. Yet, Prescott remains a small town at heart ; as I walked down to the Square for the Phippen Art Show, I was surprised at the flags and bunting that came out of storage for the day.

This bunting looked to be a family heirloom with many years of service.

The flag above at what I call the lit house includes light bulbs for a night-time display; this is the house where every possible holiday is celebrated.

More bunting at one of the displays of bronzes down at the art show.

And along Whisky Row.

A store window display with a patriotically themed doll and teddy bear.

The day also brought out a lone protester.

Although I'm not really sure about the clothing (above, below), whether it is a quietly ironic protest against patriotic displays -- or merely part of the modern refusal to take most things seriously.

Me? I wasn't raised to be a flag waver, as Mom called ostentatious patriotism. On the other hand, I confess to being somewhat disquieted by the lack of respect to the national symbols I saw this afternoon. Must be my age showing!


sheoflittlebrain said...

Remember Whitier's "Shoot if you must this old gray head, but save your country's flag instead."? We've come a long way baby.........

Granny J said...

Yes -- I do recall. Now my Mom who got her education a zillion years ago can probably still recite that poem; they used to do a lot of memorization back in those Dark Ages -- tho Mom gets a lot of pleasure from those remembered verses. I, on the other hand, wasn't forced to do a lot of memorization and so I'm a lot more like Bartlett's -- I know quite a few Familiar Quotations, but almost no entire poems. Now I realize that this is too bad!

Granny J said...

Do they read Whittier any more?

sheoflittlebrain said...

I believe it's only a few old die hards like your Mom and mine who still memorize poetry. Mine can do The raven and a few more any time. I just remember lots of bits and pieces and sometimes have to look up the authors. I was put through my paces as a small child tho.."I have a little shadow..etc"
I'm not sure who ever read Whitier. I think everyone just learned that bit..,but still, more comes back to me.. the British soldiers, the old woman patriot in the window.... I'll Google it and read it to my long suffering Grandchildren over summer break!

Catalyst said...

Your post reminded me: it's time to take our flag down.

Granny J said...

Ms. Brain -- I have a 2nd hand copy of some Whittier verse I got a couple of years ago. It even has some of those old-style line illustrations. Two of my old favorites are "Dark brown is the river, golden is the sand..." (R.L. Stevenson, I believe) and "Over the hills and far away to grandmother's house we go", which I believe was Whittier ... And no, I don't remember any more of either verse. No wonder Americans are considered barbarians these days!

Mr. Cat-A -- reassuring to have a few of the old rituals observed!

Avus said...

"Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then, bowed with her four score years and ten"

Wonderful how those poems, learnt by heart in an English Primary School, are still tucked away after 60 odd years. I still have much of it by heart.

"Who touches a hair of yon grey head, dies like a dog - march on, he said."

It made me shiver then and it still does.

Granny J said...

I'm surprised that such a very American American as JG Whittier was taught in an English primary school. Yes, I think we've lost something by not memorizing the old poems. It's not as if young ones don't memorize -- they soak up and repeat the words to rock songs and (ugh) rap.

Prescott Blog said...

Great patriotic photos from Memorial Day in Prescott. More people should enjoy the community.

Avus said...

Just a note for "sheoflittlebrain", if I may, Granny.

I have no doubt the Brit redcoats must answer for a lot during your wars of INDEPENDENCE, but give us a chance! Barbara Frietchie is a poem about your CIVIL WAR and it was a Confederate army marching down that street.

"Up the street came the level tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead"


"All day long that free flag toss'd
Over the heads of the rebel host".

(See, told you it is all in there somewhere - and yes, here is a Brit fan of Whittier, because an English school teacher got us to learn that poem long ago)

sheoflittlebrain said...

Good Golly, Avus, I have most grievously maligned the Brits and I am heartily embarrassed! Shows that my grandchildren aren't the only ones who will benefit from actually reading poety this summer!
Thanks for your great memory, input, and info here as well as on the one acre wood!

GJ-Maybe you and your granddotter would like to join us for some poetry readings this summer. I found R.L. Stevenson's, A Child's Garden of Verse, at the used book store last year.

Avus said...

Ha,ha, sheoflittle brain, all good fun.
However it just shows how valuable us ancient old gits' memories are.
Especially when brash young politicians (our Prime Minister comes to mind)take no cognisance of history (and then go on to make the same old mistakes)
Just think - a lot of Yanks may well think that the reviled redcoats shot at this dear old heroine when it was in fact "Johnny-reb" all the time.
So is history turned and corrupted.

Granny J said...

Thank you, Mr. Avus, for your history lesson. Yes, I had forgot which war Dame Barbara was caught in the middle of. But that makes it an even better poem for Memorial Day.

And thank you, Brain, for the invite! I'll take you up on that when I can persuade the young 'un to stay down in Prescott. Love RLS and have quite a few personal Bartlett's quotes from him.

And a welcome to Mr.Blog -- do come again and often!

k said...

I'm certainly a non-traditionalist in many ways. But the flag shorts had even me a little...uncomfortable.

My grandmother Jean, who hailed from Scotland, quoted memorized poetry at me. Had me in tears sometimes.

I miss that.

Granny J said...

I think those shorts troubled me more than the other expressions, tho perhaps all were a way of recognizing the holiday....

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