Thursday, September 13, 2001

Tristate sprouts flying flags

        They stand as silent sentinels. Red, white and blue flags.

        Lines of small flags on sticks suddenly sprout up on lawns across the Tristate.

        Large versions of Old Glory wave from new flag poles on front porches.

        Stores and flagmakers, alike, are having trouble keeping the Stars and Stripes in stock.

        This is Greater Cincinnati striving to pay tribute to Tuesday's victims of history's most horrific terrorist attack.

        It's impossible to fight back. So far. No one knows the evil mastermind behind the cowardly attackers.

[photo] American flags and signs of patriotism lined Harrison Avenue in Cheviot Wednesday, one day after terrorists attacked New York City and Washington. D.C.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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        But it is possible to show some patriotic pride.

        Fly the flag.

        “It shows you stand behind the freedoms the flag stands for,” said Missy Reedy. The Fort Mitchell woman had just finished attaching a new 3x5-foot flag to a pole in front of her house Wednesday.

        “I said a little prayer for the victims and their families when I finished,” she added. “No one can fathom what they are going through.”

        As the flag unfurled in the breeze, she said another prayer. This one was for America.

        Installation complete, she explained why she went shopping for the large flag.

        “We used to fly toy flags — small ones on thin sticks.” But only on holidays like the Fourth of July and Labor Day.

        “This tragedy calls for a real flag to honor America,” she said.

        “It's just the right thing to do.”

[photo] Charles Mann carries in his pocket a free flag he received after a purchase from Stacy Burchette at the West Chester Ace Hardware.
(Michael Snyder photo)
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        Missy bought her flag from Carl Hiner, manager of the Hader Hardware Store in Erlanger.

        He's running low on flags.

        “They started flying out of here just after lunch on Tuesday,” he said.

        “We're selling all sizes.” And they're on sale.

        “Immediately after the attack, I dropped them 20 percent,” he said. “We're not like some of those gas stations. We don't want to profit off anyone's pain or patriotism.”

        Carl's a proud patriot. He's worked at three branches of the hardware store chain. At each store, he's flown the flag out front.

        He puts up the flag in memory of his best friend, Jerry Hill.

        They grew up in Madison Place and were classmates from elementary school through high school. After they graduated from Withrow, Class of '67, Jerry went off to war in Vietnam. His entire patrol was wiped out in 1971. He was 20.

        Thirty years later, Carl still thinks of Jerry every morning when he looks at the red and white stripes and the 50 stars on a field of blue.

        Since Tuesday, he's flown the flag in front of the hardware store with heightened sadness. He thinks of images he can't forget, scenes of terrorists smashing planes into the World Trade Center.

        “And I just remind myself how we need to stand proud.”

        Pride and patriotism sell the flags Larry Schaller's company makes.

        When he came to work at 7 a.m. Wednesday, the president of the 132-year-old, West End-based National Flag Co. had his work cut out for him.

        “Ninety-nine percent of our orders were for American flags.” he said. “Normally after Labor Day, 75 percent of our business is anything but American flags.”

        By midday, he had sold “a quarter of a million flags.” Sales went to stores and walk-in orders. One flag now flys half-staff in front of a local township government building.

        “Their old flag was tattered. They wanted a nice, new one to fly in memory of those people who died in those terrible attacks.”

        The flag at Gene Kenney's Edgewood house may be at half-staff, but — to the Army veteran — Old Glory remains unbowed.

        “I fly that flag as a reminder,” he said.

        “This could have happened to anybody. We're all in this together.”

        The flag also reminds him of his days in the Army during the Berlin airlift.

        “When you're far away from home and wake up in the morning, the only thing that keeps you going — the only thing you have to remind you of home — is that flag.”

        Every morning, Dorothy Baechle wakes up to see a small flag fluttering in the side yard of her Cheviot home.

        Her husband, George, placed that flag there five years ago. He died in March. One of his last wishes was for her to keep that flag flying.

        “He hoped people would realize how lucky we are by seeing that little flag.”

        On Wednesday, George's flag was joined by a much larger model of the Stars and Stripes. Dorothy put it up to honor the victims of Tuesday's tragedy.

        “Lots of people have died for that flag,” she said.

        “They died so we could enjoy our freedom.”

        And fly the flag.

        Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340.


At a glance
Attacks are topic No. 1 in classrooms
Body recovery part of work of NYC crews
Constituents' emotions unmitigated
Different faiths, all drawn to pray
Family clings to details of missing woman's fate
Jews seek normalcy
Local firefighters on task force joining rescue efforts
Muslims urged to give aid
No date, time for nation's air travel to resume
Outpouring of donations keeps blood supply steady
Relatives wait for word, pray
Stranded travelers find help in Florence
Tightened air security will be norm
Travelers wait, pray in deserted airport
Work resumes, but life is different
Wright-Patterson medical personnel join effort
PULFER: Cell phones
- RADEL: Tristate sprouts flying flags
Reports bring sweep of river
Court upholds stay for Byrd
Luken suggests raises for cadets
Luken unused to second place
Primary results
Council halts bid for road-extension vote
Superintendent's contract extended
Tristate A.M. Report
Woman shot outside school as it lets out