Archive for April 3rd, 2017

U.S. Route 1 is a major north–south highway that serves the East Coast of the United States. It runs 2,369 miles, from Fort Kent, Maine, at the Canada–US border. It runs through any number of states, including New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, etcetera, south to Key West, Florida, making it the longest north-south road in the United States. How about that for a piece of trivia that you can wow your friends with the next time you get together? This is an historic highway, one traveled many times by George Washington, both in time of peace and war. In fact, along this route, many taverns and inns which have survived the tests of time and termites now boast of having sheltered the First President. If what they claim is true, it is little wonder that he is often referred to as the “Father of our Country.” Your highway education, however, is not the reason for putting forth this factoid. Rather, it is to give you a frame of reference regarding the importance of this rather ancient but venerable piece of asphalt.

You see, in Massachusetts, there is a one mile stretch of U.S. Route 1 – by the way, you may pronounce this as “rout” or “root,” depending on your own choice – that is known as “The Auto-mile.” Clever, ay whot? For along this stretch of this nationally named passage sits more damned auto dealerships, with their gaudy pennants and signs, platformed and cut-away vehicles than can be crammed into any other stretch of roadway in the country. And next to each dealership is a fast food franchise or a bloody service station. All in all, it’s rather an ugly piece of roadway. However, and there is always a “however,” there is one article that stands out above all others, not for its gaudiness or ostentation, but for its beauty. The beauty is in the thirty by sixty foot American flag that flies high above one dealership. On a clear, warm, somewhat windy day, I can hear that flag as it flaps in the breeze. It may not sound to you like such a big deal, but U.S. Route 1 is a busy highway, with trucks, buses and cars whizzing by at all hours. Yet, I can hear that flag flapping in the breeze. It reminds me of all the things that I have, have had, and will always have.

That flag represents my freedoms. It represents the fact that I can travel from state to state – all fifty of them – without having to show travel papers or any kind of documentation that says I have the right to be in New York, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and all the way to California. I’m free to go north or south without care…if that’s what I want to do. I did it once by car. That was over half a century ago. It’s a freedom that too many of us take for granted, but we shouldn’t. When I see and hear that flag, it reminds me that somewhere, out there, on a ship, in the air, and even on the ground in countries I’ve never seen, there are men and women on duty who are making damn certain that I will continue to have my freedom to travel across my country if I wish; that I can go to any gas station and fill up my car if I so desire; that I don’t have ration coupons that will prevent me from buying exactly what I want when I go to Wegman’s or Stop & Shop, Star, or whatever grocery store I so choose. That flag reminds me that I can go to the polls whenever we have a local, state, or national election, and vote for whomever I darn well please…and I don’t have to tell a soul for whom I voted if I don’t care to…but if I do care to, no one is going to tell me that I voted wrong or report me or have me arrested. That flag says that I can write whatever I wish to write for this blog without fear of retaliation or retribution by some government bureaucrat. I like these freedoms; hell, I’ve liked them for eighty-two plus years, and I intend to keep liking them, well certainly not for another eighty-two, but you get my drift.

I sometimes think that too many of us don’t take the time to look at the American flag as it flies on poles on the top of our town halls, or fire stations, department stores, or even in the front yards of people we know. We’re too quick to go about our business and not think about others who don’t have the freedoms that we take so much for granted.

Years ago, someone sent me the following:
• This morning, if you woke up healthy, then you are happier than the 1 million people that will not survive next week.
• If you never suffered a war, the loneliness of the jail cell, the agony of torture, or hunger, you are happier than 500 million people in the world.
• If you can enter into a church (mosque) without fear of jail or death, you are happier than 3 million people in the world.
• If there is a food in your fridge, you have shoes and clothes, you have bed and a roof, you are richer than 75% of the people in the world.
• If you have a bank account, money in your wallet and some coins in the money-box, you belong to the 8% of the people on the world, who are well-to-do.
I don’t consider these five bullet points very often, but whenever I see and hear that flag flying over that auto dealership, I do think about what that flag means to me. I served two tours in the Army. No, I didn’t have to go overseas or shoot anyone, but I served, and I served proudly. I hope that the next time you just happen to see an American flag flying from a pole somewhere, you’ll take a moment and think of just how blessed you are. If you are able to read this but you’re not from America, think of how blessed you are to have a computer and to be able to read English (I’m envious because I do not speak a second language).

If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading.

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