As communities across the country celebrated Flag Day Tuesday, many did so on a somber note, after President Obama ordered flags flown at half-staff at the White House, public grounds, at military bases and at embassies overseas, in honor of the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting massacre.
In turn, many state governors echoed the president's directive, making the order also pertain to state facilities. Many individual citizens and businesses also lowered their flags.
"It is a powerful statement," said Craig Stevens, who set the large flag at the Midstate Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, and Hyundai dealership in Barre, Vermont, at half-staff.
Stevens joined Americans around the country in remembering the 49 people killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando through his flag display.
"How do you grieve for these people and all the things that just happened?" Stevens sighed. "It's almost impossible."
Almost impossible, but Vermonters sure tried. Necn spotted flags at half-staff in several communities Tuesday, with each gust of wind producing another unfurling reminder of the lives honored with the symbol.
"To me, it shows togetherness; that we're all together and standing strong," said Taz Duranleau, who noted he sells many flags before Flag Day at the Stove & Flag Works store in Williston. "It's not just seeing a Vermont flag or a Maine flag or a New Hampshire flag, it's all 50 states. We all come together and show support for everyone in the United States."
The president's order directed flags to stay at half-staff until sunset Thursday.
Bob Bombardier of Richmond, whose barn has an American flag on a side wall, said he hopes the reverence behind the half-staff displays lasts, even after Old Glory goes back up.
"It's for the memory of those people and their lives," Bombardier observed. "I think it's time that we get together and unite the country and make the world a better place."
And it seems appropriate, particularly on this June 14th, to recall of one of those many song lyrics honoring our Grand Old Flag: "forever in peace may you wave."
It was 100 years ago when the United States first observed Flag Day. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day, celebrating the anniversary of the adoption of our flag.