Thu, Aug

4th of July Takeaway

MY TURN - In my small neighborhood nestled along quiet streets called the Palisades, tiny mysterious American flags popped up out of nowhere over the July 4 weekend, waving in the playful ocean breeze.

They were set carefully along city medians, rolling up and down the hilly streets, tucked neatly and safely on non-residential property so no one could complain it was on their land.

First thoughts: Either Superman was trying to perk up our low economic self-esteem or one of the two fierce opponents for the 36th Congressional seat, Democrat Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn and Republican Craig Huey, finally got wise with a positive, thought-provoking strategy.

After all, the congressional race has been disgustingly negative on both sides.

For the past several weeks, ugly campaign messages have swamped our mailbox. Hahn has saturated us with anti-Huey campaign literature, while Huey has tried to remind us of a news story, later debunked, that Hahn paid gang members to work the city streets to calm things down.

So flooded with campaign literature is our one small home, one can only imagine the sheer thousands of wasted dollars on these pieces –during a recession/depression I remind you --  and know other residents must be doing the same thing: sending them directly to the recycle bin.

When the flags popped up, it hit me: Wow! An American symbol – probably equal or less expensive to put out as fliers – and a symbol residents can keep if they choose. It’s a gentle reminder of what Independence Day is all about.

Leaning over, I plucked away a note that said “From Our Family to Yours….Have a Safe and Happy Independence Day!” The note was from  Karen Anderson who wanted to thank residents in the area for using her realty services frequently.

But it was even more than that, she told me in an interview, adding that she spent “significantly less” than campaign brochures to put out 600 American flags in the neighborhood where yes, she wants more people to know about her.

However, her symbolic gesture, she added, was to remind people of the holiday, because her husband is a Korean War veteran and her stepson is a former Marine who now serves in the National Guard.

“It’s not really a new idea,” explained Anderson, who agrees the congressional race has been nasty. “A lot of Realtors have used it. It’s not a political statement. It’s obviously my way of saying thank you to the Palisades for supporting me. And to remember what the holiday is about. Times have been so hard and we all need a little patriotism.”

For the gesture, Karen said she’s received more than a half-dozen calls thanking her and when she was putting them out along the streets, many residents responded with gratitude.

If only Hahn or Huey had been so smart. For those who might have read my articles in the past about Hahn’s reign, I’ve bitterly watched our town disintegrate and have witnessed firsthand how she couldn’t (or wasn’t interested in) getting the things done necessary to make us a whole community again.

She was elected three times to do that. Huey, on the other hand, responded to my last article that I was staying home for the first time in decades from the polls because I can’t vote for a woman who has done nothing and I don’t want to vote for Huey, a man I barely know.
When Huey emailed me, I asked to interview him and he told me he’d check his calendar. I didn’t hear back, so I emailed again. No word. So I still don’t know him!

Basically, I’ve got this lackluster feeling about voting July 12 and our political process entirely. This was only reinforced by Huey’s own lack of follow-up and then when I read Hahn’s typical email letter on July 4.

It  basically said vote for me “and I hope we will all take a moment to truly think about the idealism and sacrifice that built the United States of America and what citizenship in this great nation means.”

Action, however, is much larger than words.

Right now, I’m seeing more action from a realtor who wanted to thank her clientele in such a simple – but meaningful way – I wish we could check Anderson’s name on the ballot box.

One last thing: in the past three days, it appears few people took the flags down as they still waved boldly in the sea winds.

(Diana Chapman has been a writer/journalist for nearly thirty years. She has written for magazines, newspapers and the best-seller series, Chicken Soup for the Soul. You can reach her at:  [email protected] or her website: theunderdogforkids.blogspot.com) –cw

Tags: Independence Day, flags, July 4th, American, Korean War veteran, Janice Hahn, Craig Huey, Democrat, Republican

Vol 9 Issue 53
Pub: July 5, 2011