HALF MAST

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            Anyone familiar with U.S. History knows that specific time periods are known by titles that reflect a spirit of the age that later become textbook headings. The Gilded Age, for example, fell between the end of the Civil War and the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt including the rise of corporate power, political corruption, and the collapse of Native culture. During the Roosevelt Presidency, 1901-1909, the period is generally known as The Quiet Time by historians for its absence of war, and cultural simplicity. Is today’s history not as potent, or is it just not worthy of an era, or title? Outside of the explosion of technology in what is called, “The Information Age”, everything seems so pre-packaged and contrived that it does not at least “feel” like history in the making. We are independent, self-serving gluttons obsessed with television reality shows and texting. Kind of a jello mold culture, unwilling to take risks that won’t induce trivial fame or mass fortunes.

     As this week saw the assassination of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, there is one thing that I’ve noticed that HAS marked the last ten years with an exclamation point: flags at half mast. Whether visiting the post office, driving by an elementary school, or paying a bill at a government office, chances are in the last ten years you’ve found a flag flying at half mast there. Soldiers have died, hurricanes have destroyed, school shootings have become common place, and bombs have detonated. Everywhere! The U.S. seems to be either in a constant state of tragedy, or honoring someone who has experienced it. Whatever the cause, half mast flags are so common these days, that when I’ve asked people if they knew why (even at the post office), I’ve heard, “it’s at half mast today, oh, I hadn’t noticed.”

      So what is it? Are we experiencing more tragedy than ever before in U.S. History due to our global ambitions and sped up lives? Or are we just more politically correct in HOW we honor those who suffer? 

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