Column: We've got good reason to be proud of our flagsWORTHINGTON — I think I am an American patriot. In truth, I always liked, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” better than, “The Star Spangled Banner,” but when the, “Banner,” begins to play I am quick to my feet and I sing along with the crowd, save sometimes when we make that steep climb to “the rockets’ red glare…”
By: Ray Crippen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — I think I am an American patriot. In truth, I always liked, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” better than, “The Star Spangled Banner,” but when the, “Banner,” begins to play I am quick to my feet and I sing along with the crowd, save sometimes when we make that steep climb to “the rockets’ red glare…”
I am saying all this because I probably need to set a record straight. I had my American flag fluttering and whipping and sometimes hanging limp through nearly every day of last winter. There may have been people who muttered, “That guy must think he’s some kind of super patriot.” This was not the case.
I don’t remember how the flag came to be out there in the first place. Maybe for Thanksgiving. Then a couple of things happened.
We started getting snow and the snow blower was heaping up banks ever higher. More than once I said to myself, “Ray, you should get that flag in.” The thought of climbing and wading in that snow stopped me. “I will get it,” I said. “Later.”
The other thing was, the American flag really is a lovely thing and, along my block, we came to have so much snow there was no color anywhere, save for white and gray. The red and the blue in my flag — the red, in particular — were stunning to see. The flag had the only color to be found in all that dreary, chill landscape. When I considered this I said to myself, “Ray, maybe you should just leave the flag out there. It really is a thing of beauty.”
There is a point I want to make. The point is that the flag came through the winter undiminished. It did not fade. It did not tear or shred. It was no less fine on the dawn of Easter morning than on the dawn of Christmas morning.
I am saying this to cheer on the Worthington Chamber committee which announces plans to restore and even to expand the Peace Avenue of Flags. This is great.
One of the things that discouraged the original Avenue of Flags 40 years ago was the mix of winds which can spin wind turbines and the quality of 20th century flags. Those flags shredded quickly.
They make flags better today. Well, you can leave a flag outside for the winter and it is none the worse for wear.
When the original Peace Avenue was dedicated, I believe the claim was that this was the biggest collection of international banners between Worthington and the United Nations plaza in New York City. This still will be an honest boast, I believe, when the new flags go on display.
Thinking of flags and the United Nations set me thinking of that time — June 1958 — when Worthington was chosen for the first World Brotherhood Community Award. How unlikely this sometimes seems.
Several factors were cited, but the thing that had won closest attention was Worthington’s affiliation with Crailsheim. There were veterans along every block who half-a-dozen year earlier were shooting Germans. Now Worthington was sending shoes and school supplies to Germany, exchanging high school students and planning visits.
Well, the Worthington-Crailsheim association was so successful that Worthington won wide attention. The Twin City newspapers. The New York Times. Redbook magazine. The U.S. government noticed.
Next thing you knew, there was good John Fenstermacher, Conoco bulk oil dealer, gas truck driver and Worthington’s dedicated mayor, standing on a platform in the UN World Affairs Center in New York receiving a plaque from Carlos Romulo, the Philippines ambassador to the United States and a Pulitzer Prize winner in journalism. Hardy Rickbeil, who died only in the last month, was there. So were Charlie Cashel and Tedo Cashel, who had set in motion Worthington’s affiliation with Crailsheim.
Worthington and Rochester, N.Y., were the communities honored.
Oh my, there was great pride. And there were admonitions. Father Hale (J. Stanley Hale) said in an interview, “…We have some things to do if we are going to measure up to our international reputation.”
There were indeed knots that needed to be undone but in that June of 52 years gone by, Worthington was a proud community.
Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.