Would you wear a flag today?
I asked this question hundreds of times, my mouth dry, as I stood in the plaza in front of the Titan bookstore.
“I wanted a flag, thanks.”
“May I have one for my friend?”
“Thank you, and have a great weekend.”
Some reticence when they thought I wanted something in return, but some passed me by only to return requesting one. The students are used to handouts in the plaza and don’t want to be bothered by another come-on. One dug into his pocket to give me money, but they were free. Two “no’s” from students who may not have understood my offer—a “no” from a man dressed in a sports coat who appeared to be a professor. I wondered why. I knew one student in a group waiting to go on a field trip-Kathleen Johnson from St. Paul’s. One lady, apparently another professor, took a flag pin and commented that she had gathered nearly $400 in her classes to go to the victims.
Two students asked for pins and traded with me for one of their white ribbons. They had flyers announcing a prayer vigil next Tuesday evening in the Memorial Grove. I pinned on the ribbon next to my flag pin. One time I was surrounded by dozens of students wanting a pin.
There were smiles of appreciation on their lips and eyes, even from a couple of big football types. As they took a flag, they knew what it was all about. Today is a day of prayer for those missing and killed in the September 11 tragedy.
I left the plaza holding a few pins in my hand, the remainders of a Hi-C can-full that I had distributed in the early morning hours. I wasn’t sure how I would be accepted—an old man proffering flag pins among the students. The “thank you” I received as I handed out the first pin gave me confidence. I walked from the parking lot towards the center of campus, hoping to find enough students to accept this tiny plastic American flag with a stickpin.
I am not sure about how many pins I distributed. Maybe 200? Maybe 300? They were from a promotion in 1976 for the Revolution roller coaster at Magic Mountain. I have given some out over the years to Boy Scouts and some while traveling in Russia in 1989. They were made by Lewton; USA-probably today, they would be made in China.
Today, 21 years later, how many students and faculty would accept the little flag pin? How many would wear it? Today, September 11, 2022, I remember and take pride in my country. How many others do?