What the American Flag Stands For

Peter Crownfield is officially retired but spends most of his time working with students in his role as internship coordinator for the Alliance for Sustainable Communities–Lehigh Valley.

Following on Martha’s post yesterday, this was written quite a few years ago by a 12-year-old in Maine:

What the American Flag Stands For

by Charlotte Aldebron

The American flag stands for the fact that cloth can be very important. It is against the law to let the flag touch the ground or to leave the flag flying when the weather is bad. The flag has to be treated with respect. You can tell just how important this cloth is because when you compare it to people, it gets much better treatment. Nobody cares if a homeless person touches the ground. A homeless person can lie all over the ground all night long without anyone picking him up, folding him neatly and sheltering him from the rain.

School children have to pledge loyalty to this piece of cloth every morning. No one has to pledge loyalty to justice and equality and human decency. No one has to promise that people will get a fair wage, or enough food to eat, or affordable medicine, or clean water, or air free of harmful chemicals. But we all have to promise to love a rectangle of red, white, and blue cloth.

Betsy Ross would be quite surprised to see how successful her creation has become. But Thomas Jefferson would be disappointed to see how little of the flag’s real meaning remains.

Charlotte Aldebron wrote this essay in 2002, when she was 12.

What social studies teachers do with their time

The Gadfly invites your “local color” photos and reflections of this sort

Martha A Larkin is a lifelong learner, linguist, caffeine connoisseur, and country road commuter. She has found her teaching home in a rural community in the northwest corner of the LV that we call Tiger Country. She attended and graduated from Bethlehem schools (K-M.Ed.). Bethlum is where she resides.
Larkin rule 1


Gadfly: While on my morning walk, I noticed the flag at half-mast. I took a moment; it always catches my eye, my thoughts, and sometimes my heart. I had to pause to catch my breath because I wanted to cry, no, scream, no . . . I don’t know. Here I am again at another flag, at a different high school, and in my hometown.

Larkin flag

I haven’t had a flag at my house since the last ceremonious disposal. So, I procured a new US flag. I was hanging it, and my neighbor asked me if it was some sort of protest. I responded, “No. A sign of distress. I don’t know the answers.” He recognized the distress signal from being in the Navy. He agrees, we’re in distress. He’s on his way to get a new flag too.

Larkin Hate

We then spoke with another neighbor.

For me, for this morning, maybe that was the answer, talking to my neighbors.


Forest Bathing with H.D. (21)

(21st in a series of posts on H.D.)

Finding H.D.:
A Community Exploration of the Life and Work of Hilda Doolittle

Bethlehem-born writer Hilda Doolittle — H. D. —  (1886-1961) is
the “Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure.”


It is time to register for our next Finding H.D. event:

Forest Bathing with H.D.

September 22, 2019. 2-5 pm
Rain date: September 21, 2-5 pm
Little Pond Arts Retreat
92 South Penn Dixie Road, Nazareth
A meditative Shinrin Yoku practice with readings of
H.D.’s work. Limited to 10 participants. Register by
emailing jega@lehigh.edu. First come first served. 

Given by Anisa George.

The white violet / is scented on its stalk, / the sea-violet / fragile as agate, /lies fronting all the wind / among the torn shells / on the sand-bank.


The greater blue violets

flutter on the hill,

but who would change

who would change for these

one root of the white sort?

Violet / your grasp is frail / on the edge of the sand-hill, / but you catch the light — /

                                               frost, a star edges with its fire.


Finding H.D.:
A Community Exploration of the Life and Work of Hilda Doolittle

photo by Jennie Gilrain
taken in her Southside neighborhood

It’s been a rough weekend . . .

The Gadfly invites your “local color” photos and reflections of this sort

El Paso . . . . Dayton

We need some reminders of the beauty in life.

We need some reminders of the possibility of miraculous transformation.

from almost invisible egg to the beautiful Monarch butterfly

and the unbelievably slow but magic process in between

captured on Friday by the patient eye and lens of Victoria R. Leister

at Pharo Garden Centre

from larva to chrysalis

Vicki butterfly 13

Let’s not lose heart

Let’s not give up

Gadfly’s walking report card at mid-term

Gadfly wants to live long enough to walk a pedestrian bridge connecting the north and south sides.

So Gadfly is enrolled in the “Tail on the Trail” challenge sponsored by St. Luke’s to be in shape for that great day. (It’s not too late to join!)

The idea is 165 miles between May 1 and November 1 — 6 months.

165 miles is the length of the Delaware and Lehigh canal, but you can do your walking and biking anywhere.

We’re half-way. 3 months down, 3 to go.

Gadfly set himself the goal of doubling the challenge = 330 miles.

He had a lousy May but is now ahead of his pace.

Tail 4

You can see in the fine print above that Gadfly has done 214 miles, above the 3-month goal of 180.

And lost 7 unnecessary pounds in the process!

Maybe he should try to triple the challenge!

Gadfly hopes some of your tails are on the trail or in some sort of exercise program.

We all need strength and stamina to fight the good fight against the forces of evil and ignorance.

Sunday morning on the Monocacy

The Gadfly invites your “local color” photos and reflections of this sort

On his morning walk through the historic Industrial Quarter this morning, Gadfly was reminded of Emerson: “I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.”

(Nerdy ol’ Gadfly — expecting everybody to have read Ralph Waldo Emerson, arguably the creator of the American mythology of self-reliance.)

Some of you will shudder no doubt. But Gadfly is not a Musikfest-goer. That’s almost a sin in some circles in this town.

I mean, he’s glad we have Musikfest. He’s glad lots of people enjoy it. It’s just not his “bag” as we used to say.

Gadfly’s a shy, quiet man, not a fan of crowds, spectacle.

He likes his beer and his music in more intimate settings.

For instance, Jazz nites at the Cafe with Patti, Pete Smyser, and Larry McKenna. Or Thursdays at the Hotel Bethlehem. Or Jazz Upstairs at Miller Symphony Hall.

Get the idea.

But he had a different feeling about Musikfest walking into the Industrial Quarter this early morning.


Like he had stumbled into a village without people.

A ghost town.

Post-apocalypse in the Twilight Zone.


All the signs of life without life.

But the new feeling he had this Sunday morning was of life about to burst forth, of the egg about ready to crack.

Of gigantic transformation about ready to transform.

Of dynamic energy poised to unleash.

And that’s exciting.

And he felt a new feeling of pride that his City was muscular enough to support this 10-11 day enterprise.

A feeling that if it set its mind to do this kind of thing many other kinds of thing are possible.

So like Emerson relishing the silent time before the service, Gadfly found himself relishing the silent time before the Fest.

The only relish the Fest will give him.

Gadfly’s not sure if he should say this. About what he also saw on his morning constitutional. A dog pooping into a plastic bag provided by its owner. There, on the banks of the Monocacy. He saw it. He really did.

It’s that time of year . . .

The Gadfly invites “local color” photos of this sort

. . . when Mother Nature’s l’ill childrun head out on their own



sit too long in that chair

and you might have some trouble

getting up








someone’s feeling

left out







every house

needs a

greeter flower




Can you tell Gadfly’s not getting much work done on this hot day?