Proof that our flag is still there

Flag Day marks a time to honor national symbol

A flag on North Water Street in downtown Kent is displayed for Flag Day today. Sales of American flags have decreased since Sept. 11, when they spiked because of newfound patriotism after the terroist attack in New York City. MICHELE ROEHRIG | SUMMER KEN

Credit: Steve Schirra

       An intricately folded flag marks the death of a fallen soldier. A flag flying at half-staff signifies a national tragedy. In the aftermath of Sept. 11, American flags were found on display in seemingly every front yard and on every building.

American flags line the streets of any downtown area this time of year. June 14 is National Flag Day,

a day in which Americans are expected to pay respect and homage to the flag.

“The flag is a symbol of our nation. It’s a symbol of our freedom, of our country and what we stand for,” said Commander John Wilson of the American Legion Post 496 in Kent. “It’s what we, as vets, fight for and defend.”

Flag Day is a quietly celebrated holiday. Wilson said the American Legion will not hold any public festivities for the flag. Instead, they will have a private ceremony at the post.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, many stores, including local ones, found an unprecedented boom in flag sales. Patriotic fervor swept the nation, and many American people sought a unifying symbol, such as the familiar stars and stripes.

As the five year anniversary for Sept. 11 approaches, do Americans still possess the same sentiment toward the flag?

“During 9/11, I’d say that flag sales most definitely did increase,” said Greg, manager for the Kent/Ravenna Wal-Mart. Due to corporate policy, Wal-Mart managers are not permitted to give their full name for interviews.

“Now, sales are still up, but not quite as high as it was after it happened. It’s about halfway down since then,” he said.

Greg said the store brings attention to the holiday with festive displays, but flag sales are nowhere near the volume of five years ago.

“I remember being a customer at Wal-Mart right after Sept. 11, and that was when you couldn’t find a flag anywhere – no stores had them,” he said. “Now it’s a lot easier. Our store is pretty well stocked.”

Wilson said that flag sales from the American Legion are still very high and will stay that way as long as the United States is involved in conflicts overseas.

“We have probably sold more flags in the last two years than we ever have,” he said. “Whether people agree or disagree with the conflict in Iraq, they’re still in support of the troops.”

Contact features correspondent Ryan deBiase at [email protected].