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Flag Stuff

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"So where does that leave the rest of us?" Swift muttered. "My Lord. It sounds scary. I'm afraid that people will read that and say, 'Oh, God, here we were going to get an Arizona flag, better not get one because we don't have time to go through all that ritual.'"

All that ritual took place on the Capitol grounds, on Statehood Day, February 14. It happened at nine in the morning, and I was there.

So was Rachel Nye, and a number of Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, onlookers, a fire and a worn Arizona flag. Actually, it didn't look that bad to me, a few threads and a seam hanging off one side. Kind of sexy, like it had been through a small war or something.

Then I thought about what Nye had told me . . . When it's too worn out, or if it's torn or faded and it doesn't look nice. That's when you should retire it.

Okay. The Boy Scouts stood in a solemn line behind the fire as Nye stepped up to the microphone. She read a statement, but there was no song, no Pledge of Allegiance. Various people approached the flag, held out by Nye's two sisters, both Girl Scouts. The selected cutters handed a pair of scissors back and forth, slicing off pieces of flag in proper order, then dropping them into the fire.

There was a guy dressed as a Buffalo Soldier, a woman from the American Association of Retired People, a couple Daughters of the American Revolution.

The smell of burning fabric filled the morning, and I did not love it. Neither did those Boy Scouts, as the stench blew into their faces. Yet they stood firm. Then it was over, the Scouts doused the smoldering ashes with water from official pails, and I left.

And there you have it. No longer will citizens be thrown into a quandary over an Arizona State Flag, Proper Disposal of. As I walked back to my car, past the tank and battle-ready helicopter that had been planted in the street in front of the Capitol for Statehood Day celebrations, I glanced back at the crisp, fresh state flag whipping in the breeze atop the building. It looked good. For now.

--Gilstrap

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Peter Gilstrap
Contact: Peter Gilstrap