Opinion

Bob Mitchell: Interesting flag facts and conversations

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Once the American Legion Magazine told a story that will outdo any auto agency or those displaying large flags of the United States of America.

This show of patriotism happens to be on an insurance company campus in Wisconsin. The flagpole is 100 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty, and the flag is more that four stories tall.

Then there are the other statistics about this flag, which are as follows: the pole is 400 feet high; the flag’s size is 7,200 square feet; the measurement of each star is 3.5 feet; each stripe is four feet wide; the pole weighs 420,000, pounds; it took 500 gallons of paint to cover the pole; there were 680 yards of concrete used in the pole’s foundations; and -42 degrees is the lowest temperature the pole is designed to withstand.

On the foundation are bricks containing the names of persons killed while servicing in the Armed Forces.

An official of the company tells in the story that a person is not an owner of a flag, but a custodian.

Does anyone want to tackle this as a project for Cassville?

Slow Congress

In the same magazine, concerning the Star Spangled Banner, the slowness of Congress wasn’t much better between 1814 and 1931, that’s the period of time when Francis Scott Key put pen and paper together to write the song and for that august body to accept the music as our National Anthem.

Other interesting facts include:

The Star Spangled Banner was written behind enemy lines while Key was negotiating the release of a prisoner from the British during the War of 1812. During this time he became privy to England’s plans to rout Baltimore, so enemy commanders held him aboard ship during the battle. He and two companions witnessed the firing on Ft. McHenry, inspiring his famous words.

In the final of four verses Key wrote “In God We Trust” which has appeared on coins since the Civil War and on paper money surprisingly remaining there since 1950.

In 1893, the Navy ordered the playing of the anthem at colors and the Army followed two years later.

It wasn’t until 1942, during World War II, that Legion sponsorship of a revamped Flag Code called for Americans to stand for the anthem and hold their right hand over their heart.

Over coffee

Most people would be surprised what conversations pass around the table during a morning coffee session anywhere in the country. One that surprised me recently was the design and play on rural school ball fields. This was back in the days when there were over 100 of the one room, or slightly larger, rural educational institutions.

Most of the amazement was how so few runs could be scored in a game when most of the playing fields ran down hill. A well-hit ball to the outfield could either run clear to a fence that was probably built by rocks removed from the field or into the surrounding woods.

Outfielders, and there were some of them in the conversation, learned to be swift in their covering the ball headed their way.

The same applied to the outdoor basketball areas that often found the ball bounding toward either the fence or the woods, which caused longer playing time for games at this location while the ball was retrieved.

There was one exception during later years that was really appreciated by the town boys in trips for competition. That was Butterfield, whose fields were perfectly level. End walls in the gym were a little close to the playing floor, but you eventually learned to bounce off them without getting injured.

Playing in town

Barry County competition often pitted those winning the most games at their home locations to come to town for play at fields or court on North Main Street in Cassville. This often served as the first look at rural talent for high school coaches in the county.

They often resembled talent scouts of today’s teams that want to look over a particular player subject to attending their school.

Flaming fall colors

Within the next few weeks one of the most spectacular sights in the Ozarks will be upon us, the flaming fall color arrives throughout this area bringing an anticipation of brilliant foliage at every turn of the road.

One of my most regular calls in years past was to the U.S. Forest Service, when the Ranger Station was operating, to get a staffer to set an absolute date for the arrival of the color. The usual answer that came back was the middle or slightly later in October. They too had learned how fickle Mother Nature could be, and as much as the fall event might rely on weather.

The splend0r that brings people from a wide area to see for themselves, will be here, just you wait and see!

While roaming the roads to view the color, drive carefully and be courteous to our visitors.

“Happy 150th Birthday to the Cassville Democrat, 1871-2021.”!

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat. He is a 2017 inductee to both the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame and Missouri Southern State University’s Regional Media Hall of Fame.

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