Sunday, September 16, 2001

Tristate a sea of red, white and blue

By Kristina Goetz and Amy Higgins
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        While shock and grief linger, the mood across the Tristate is clearly shifting in the direction of patriotism and a readiness for what comes next.

[photo] Richard Spaeth, 82, a World War II veteran, flies the American flag at his Mount Adams home.
(Tony Jones photo)
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        A burst of national pride has created such a run on American flags in Greater Cincinnati that none could be found Friday at local stores — not even the display at Land Air & Sea Surplus in Newport.

        “They sold my display flags,” store owner Karen Embs said of her employees. “People were begging to buy them.”

        The shortage is compounded because few stores carry flags this time of year. Phyllis Payne, store team leader at Target in Western Hills, said most stores only carry flags during the summer when Flag Day and Fourth of July fall.

        “So we are going back and getting some,” she said.

        A voice-mail greeting at Flaggs USA in Oakley simply said, “We don't know when we will receive any new flags.”

        Nevertheless, the red, white and blue spirit is popping up in neighborhoods across the Queen City.

        Paper flags hang in storefront windows throughout downtown Cincinnati and a giant one hangs from the tower at St. Luke Hospital East in Fort Thomas. The electronic billboard at the Four Points Sheraton, downtown, streams: “God Bless America!”

[photo] Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy football players wore flags on their helmets during their game Saturday.
(Brandi Stafford photo)
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        “I'm going to leave this flag up until America gets back on its feet,” said 82-year-old Richard Spaeth, a Mount Adams resident and World War II veteran, standing on the porch of his house. “I want America to get back to itself again.”

        Talk on soccer fields and parks over the weekend remained centered on Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

        “I see flags all over our neighborhood,” said Karen Chalfant, 40, of Taylor Mill. “People are wearing red, white and blue to show support for our country.”

        Lonia Butler, 32, of Winton Terrace has been teaching her children, Ashleigh, 10, and Kristian, 5, about patriotism and what it means when the flag flies at half staff.

        She plans to post a flag in her front yard to show her support for the country, as well as a 23-year-old nephew, who returned from the United States Air Force in January and was told to be prepared for war.

        “It's important that we show our patriotism here,” she said. “It could have happened to any one of us, regardless where we are, not just those in New York and Washington.”

        There have been planned moments of silence — including Friday's prayer service at Fountain Square — and impromptu songs in businesses and bars.

        Thursday night, Kelly Red and the Hammerheads belted out the “Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” at the East End Cafe in Columbia Tusculum.

        “When she broke into it, it kind of shocked people,” said Tim Turner, who runs the kitchen. “But everybody fell in. It really strikes home here.”

       Enquirer staff writer Jeff McKinney contributed.


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