Of the many memories I have of President Kennedy’s assassination, the most searing may be seeing flags at half-staff.

For 30 days, every American flag flew sadly, partway up its pole.  It was a powerful reminder of the tremendous loss our country suffered.

Flags flew at half-staff on similarly sad occasions — when presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Johnson died, for example.  I can’t remember any other time, when I was a teenager, that I saw flags that way.

Today, it seems, flags are almost permanently at half-staff.

The tribute is awarded to former police officers, firefighters and town employees, as well as every Connecticut resident killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  In the soldiers’ cases, the flag remains at half-staff until after the burial.

I do not want to diminish anyone’s death — not the men and women who served our town, or those from our state who gave their lives serving our country.

But I can’t help wondering whether flying flags at half-staff so often doesn’t diminish their deaths in some way.  Most of the time, we don’t know who’s being honored.  There’s no one to tell us, so we ignore the symbolism.  Half-staff flags become part of the scenery.

I know many “06880” readers will disagree.  I’m not even sure I agree with myself.

But — in true American spirit — let the debate begin.

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