Many of you will go to work this week, you will park in the parking lot and walk by the flag pole at half-staff and probably not even bat an eye.
The purpose of the American flag being at half-staff, according to legend, was to be lowered to replace the invisible flag of death. One of the first documented cases of a flag being at half-staff was upon the death of George Washington, when our country’s small navy ordered its ships to properly show their respect to the former president. Throughout our country's history we have seen numerous dignitaries, statesmen and tragedies where we show our respect to the lives lived, their legacies and to honor the fallen. But when do we just see this as "going through the motions?"
- Gunman killed sister, eight others in second deadly U.S. mass shooting in 24 hours
- El Paso shooting suspect could face federal hate crime charges
We usually honor our fallen by remembering the history and reasons why our servicemen fell. We do this in the hopes that we also learn from the wars we fought so we don’t have to fight again, at the same time keeping vigilance to those who wish us harm. We remember the legacies of former elected officials and members of the Supreme Court for the laws they passed that brought about debate and may or may not have changed our lives for the better. But what are we doing in times of tragedy? Are we just going through the motions, or are we willing to get in a room and realize we have a public safety issue in this country.
As a two-tour Iraq veteran, in these past weeks, people stand a greater risk of being harmed going to the local mall or grocery store than going on a combat mission overseas. Does anyone see a disconnect here? Simply walking around like Clint Eastwood in a western, waiting for a fight, doesn’t cut it. Have we got to a point where we can’t discuss public safety? Have we pushed aside the safety of our families because we cannot see past the Second Amendment or see that phrase as "out of bounds?" Have we stopped looking out for the well-being of our friends and neighbors in fear for being "snubbed" in our communities for saying something?
Citizenship and public safety rests on all of our shoulders. This responsibility means getting off our butts and social media and being proactive and willing to discuss issues in a cordial and positive manner. This responsibility also means attempting to see these tragedies as a common-shared experience where we can make things better for our children and grandchildren by engaging our elected officials to do something.
We are better than half-staff.