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Mailbag: Please remember to fly flags at half-staff

April 19, 2013

Today, while doing errands, I noted with great sadness the many United States flags being flown at half-staff around our city in honor of the victims of the violence in Boston.

I greatly appreciate the gesture; the reason behind it is what makes me sad.

Flags are to be flown at half-staff from Tuesday until sunset Saturday. Flag lowering, while a small thing to some, provides most of us with a sense of community with our fellow citizens in Boston for whom we can do little from a distance except to show respect for what so many there have experienced.

One of my errands was at a local bank in Newport Beach. Walking in, I noticed its flag was not at half-staff, which I thought odd.

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As is its custom, at the door I was greeted warmly by two bank employees, a man and a woman. I asked why the flag out front was not lowered, thinking perhaps someone had forgotten. The response was slow in coming, so I gently reminded them about Boston but to my surprise (and dismay), I was told, "We can't do that without permission from corporate."

I then asked if they had asked for permission. Answer: "No."

Beyond that, there seemed no inclination to do so, and sadly there seemed no interest from the gentlemen to pursue it further.

His more gracious companion seemed a bit embarrassed, so I said to her, "If nothing else, (the bank) could benefit from some improved public relations these days, as could most banks."

She nodded affirmatively, looking sheepish.

After making my bank deposit, I departed but could not get the encounter out of my mind. I wonder why, as a society, so many corporations and individuals seem so disconnected to all but their own circles, devoid of caring about our fellow men and women.

Perhaps it is a clue to why some feel a disconnection so deep that they act out in violent ways, as we have seen in recent times.

My hope is that after I left, someone at the bank decided to think out of the box, call "corporate," and remind the bosses that there is a standing order to fly all United States flags at half-staff until sundown Saturday. Sad and troubling to think that if it happens, it took shaming folks into doing so.

Jacquelyn K. Torrens

Newport Beach

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