Wish I could claim credit for knowing enough over the weekend to go out and lower the big new flag at the museum to half-staff in mourning for the victims of the shootings at Roseburg, Oregon, on Thursday.
But I didn't. So thanks, HyVee! I noticed your flags at half-staff Saturday morning, came home and looked up the order by President Obama that the nation's public flags be flown at half-staff from Friday through sundown Tuesday, then went out and lowered ours --- a day late.
Noticed later that the Community First Credit Union flag was at half-staff, too --- thanks to Karen and her crew.
I'm a neophyte in this whole thing --- and needed to be reminded. I've never felt inclined to fly the flag at home --- a skeptic about all religion, civic and otherwise --- and having some influence over a pole so tall and a flag so large as those recently installed at the museum --- and the accompanying responsibility --- is something new.
Then I drove around on Sunday, after making sure the museum flag still was flying, and discovered that apparently everyone else had missed the notice, too. This was not a comprehensive check, but I did drive by most of the really big, really public flag poles and a few private ones, too. Not a single half-staff flag that I could find.
The flag at the USDA Building was sagging down on its pole a little, but I'm guessing that was just carelessness. Flags at the Courthouse, City Hall, Post Office, legion post, schools, etc., etc., still were flying high.
With the possible exception of the USDA Building and the post office --- which the president does have authority over in an indirect sort of way --- no one's obliged to lower a flag. There are no flag police, and that's a good thing.
Just as a reminder --- the president orders flags flown half-staff at federal sites; governors can regulate flags at state-owned installations, too. Personal, corporate or institutional flags are controlled by those who own them. Private parties who observe federal or state declarations are doing so out of respect, not obligation.
Actually, I'm guessing that many of us are so accustomed to mass slaughter in our schools and elsewhere that it really doesn't occur to us that these are occasions for national mourning, too. My attention Saturday morning before noticing the grocery store flags was focused on buying a pound of bacon, for example.
I went online a little later and found some expressions of dismay and regret about the shootings from fellow bleeding-heart liberals.
But far more cobbled-together memes extolling the usefulness of guns, suggesting that things would get better if more people owned them, reminding me that cold weather kills, too, and implying that all these pesky massacres when tracked to their sources are mostly attacks on Second Amendment rights.
We sure do live in interesting times.