I woke on a recent morning later than usual. Since working from home, I’ve come to expect the quiet of a residential location. As I looked out my girlfriend’s bay window, I noticed the neighbor across the street coming from his garage. He had two folded items in his hand. And it wasn’t until he grabbed the ropes, that I realized what was about to occur. I sat down in the recliner, with the dog, to take in the moment.
He spent a bit of time untwining the ropes. Then he unfolded Old Glory and fastened her to one of the ropes. He also unfolded a second flag — that of the United States Navy. It’s one of the first things I noticed when we were looking at the house we now share — many people in this community have flagpoles. Most if not all served in some branch of the military.
That’s not the remarkable thing. With the whining of a chain saw in the distance, he raised the colors to full height — I hadn’t even noticed that he had replaced his flagpole. Three months prior, the state of Iowa had suffered a horrible derecho, with few deaths. Coming out of our house in the aftermath, I was amazed that our personal damage had not been great, but the devastation was worse. The power was out, for some almost the whole month. You couldn’t get down streets, due to old growth trees having been toppled. And my neighbor had lost his flagpole.
This holiday season, during this pandemic, all any of us want is just a bit of normalcy. But if we are to endure, if we are to get through this, we must all work to keep one another safe. Observe social distancing. Wear a mask — especially in public. Wash your hands and avoid touching your face after any interaction with others. Realize that people can have COVID-19 and not know it — until it’s too late. For the safety of your family and friends, stay away. This is especially important for those preparing to give birth, who have just had recent treatments or are not at full medical strength. Still, that is not a guarantee, as we have heard of infant to elderly succumbing.
Now is the time to beat COVID. If we work together, we can get back to that normalcy we all relish. As my neighbor stood in the door frame of his garage, he had taken one step toward his normalcy.
Reginald Williams lives in Cedar Rapids.