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Ernest Urvater: Time for Amherst to make money over flag controversy

To the editor:

When I was a kid I also suffered from a severe flag-fetish compulsion. During WWII, I went to summer camp where every morning the whole camp turned out in formation to watch the flag run up the pole to the bracing sound of bugle-played reveille. And before dinner as taps bugled its way into my heart, the flag came down the pole.

Every kid in camp got a chance to learn to fold the precious rectangle into an isosceles triangle, and each of us took a turn at the meticulous ceremony. When I returned home I always had trouble getting used to not having these commemorations each day — couldn’t get up in the morning — couldn’t go to sleep at night.

I was reminded of this experience by the latest outbreak of flag-fetish being played out at the Amherst Select Board. Should or should not flags fly on town poles on 9/11? “I’ll be back next year” threatened our local, most vocal sufferer from this debilitating ailment when 9/11 flutterings were denied again this year.

Why not exercise a quintessentially American solution to this problem? We’re doing it with education, stadia naming, considering it with social security, tried it with water, and even the air we breathe. What are we waiting for?


The town should sell flagging rights, pole by pole. Put an end to this intolerable standoff. On 9/11 the veteran’s organizations can purchase poles to run up American flags. On the anniversary of the Iraq war, peace organizations can also run up American flags — upside down. On the anniversary of the Vietnam War radical groups can hoist Vietcong flags. Pay to play. And look at all the revenue the town would collect! Stop gathering signatures! Let a thousand flags bloom.

Ernest Urvater


Legacy Comments2

This is just too droll. Last month, Larry Kelley said the flag flap remains important because "many who live outside Amherst perceive the community as being hostile to the American flag". And why, exactly, would that be, Mr. Kelley? Could it possibly be because you have spent years proclaiming just that to all and sundry? You can't be both victim and perpetrator, you know.

What you describe as a "severe flag-fetish compulsion" most Americans view as a normal sign of respect. Wonder what that says about you?

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