I attended the flag rally at Santa Fe Park this past Wednesday. I was the only press person there. The television cameras and the really big print media had all moved on to other things. No bloggers showed up. About 30 people were there; half were curious local folks, some law enforcement, me, the mayor, and a handful of American Legion members who create the Avenue of Flags display every year.
The rest were from out of town, drawn to Santa Fe Park in support of Kevin Linscheid who organized the rally by spreading the word on the Internet about the flag desecration Memorial Day weekend. Much has been said about Kevin, the flags, the vandals, me and this newspaper, and local and county law enforcement.
I have nothing more to add. But I do want to tell you of a couple of good things the rally produced.
Together, Marion County Sheriff Rob Craft and Kevin Linscheid addressed the small group. One of the things Craft said was that he hoped the Peabody community could land on its feet after this incident. He told the visitors that he thought Peabody actually hosts more patriotic events than most communities in the area.
One guy in the crowd said, “Yeah, I believe that. I got here 30 or 40 minutes early and was just riding around to look over the town. I’m from Emporia and all of our residents together don’t use nearly as much red, white, and blue as Peabody does. There are flags and bunting and decorations everywhere here. It is impressive.”
So how about that? He came here prepared to dislike the community because of the bad behavior of a small number of citizens, but went away pleased by our show of patriotism.
I can’t help but wish that Wednesday’s visitors could return next Memorial Day and see the Avenue of Flags, especially at night, when it is most impressive. I would like them to see Operation Celebration and the veterans’ pictures downtown, the World War II re-enactors, and Ace Torres in his WWII sailor’s hat riding in the parade. I would like for them to be here this weekend when we celebrate Independence Day for the 89th consecutive year. It is always a red, white, and blue extravaganza.
I wish they could be on hand for the many events the American Legion, the Legion Auxiliary, and the Sons of the Legionnaires carry out locally. Those groups provide motorcycle escorts, quilts, toys, money, Christmas relief, scholarships, the Avenue of Flags, and many other things to Peabody and Marion County.
Another good moment on Wednesday came when The Mister, who had driven home from work in Wichita to take part in the rally, placed his hand over his heart and nodded, first to Kevin to catch his eye and then to the flag Kevin had installed at the gazebo before the rally started. Kevin caught the look and asked that we all join in the Pledge of Allegiance before we disbursed. That was a nice moment for everyone.
So while it was kind of a nonevent compared to the hype and what might have transpired, I think it also was good event.
Sometimes you take your moments where you find them — even if that is where you least expect it.
— Susan Marshall