Retiring A Flag On Flag Day

flag2bday2b2011Today is Flag Day in the United States, in which we honor the symbol of our country. It is also the anniversary of the founding of the US Army in 1775.

I wanted to share with you a story that involves both.

I fly two flags at my home, most of the time. The largest one I started flying on September 11, 2001, and has flown continually since then, lighted at night. I will always fly this flag.

The other flag is a smaller flag, attached to my mailbox post. It is flown to honor my brother, SFC Michael Lindsay, who has served in the US Army since the fall of 1991.


The flag flies on my mailbox whenever he serves in harm’s way in defense of me, you, and our country. As you can imagine, he has had his share of such assignments. In fact, in his almost 22 years of service, I think he has served only about 6 years where he wasn’t in a combat unit – 3 in the Old Guard, performing funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, and 3 as a drill instructor, jump school instructor, and Pathfinder instructor at Fort Benning. So, I have had a flag on my mailbox for most of the last 22 years.

Whenever I need to replace the smaller flag, I keep the old one as long as it isn’t too torn or faded to display. In 22 years I’ve kept 8 or so to display in my yard on national holidays. They are in my yard today, as you can see by the photo at the top of this post.

This is a special Flag Day for me, because I get to retire the mailbox flag, probably for good. My brother returned from his third tour of the middle east recently, and has been reassigned to the training brigade at Fort Dix, NJ, where he will prepare group troops that are deploying. Hence, he won’t be in a unit that could be deployed, barring a zombie apocalypse. His next assignment, we hope, will be to teach ROTC at a college in Florida, which would be an awesome thing for future reserve officers, as much as it would be for him and his family. That will likely be the post from which he retires.

My brother went in the Army in 1991, to get money for college. He scored well enough in the entrance testing to get into the Airborne, and he found out, to the delight of our whole family, that he enjoyed the work. You see, my family has a gene that, if untreated, makes us highly susceptible to being huge assholes. As it turns out, this isn’t such a  bad thing in the army. My brother found out that, in his words, being an asshole saves lives in combat. In fact, he is most proud of the fact that his commanding officers have actually used the word “asshole” in more that one of his annual reviews.

He has mostly spent his time in the 82nd Airborne Division, and he’s been places and done things that we’ve all heard about, like Kosovo, Haiti, Iraq, and Afghanistan. As an example, when Jimmy Carter and Colin Powell were in the office of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1995, trying to convince him to leave by pointing out that the 82nd Airborne was in the air coming his way, that was my brother they were talking about, flying their way in a big can of whup-ass.

Too, he has done things, and trained for things, that he’s told me about, on the back porch over a beer, that never made the papers. Some of it happened, and some of it was called off. Suffice it to say that, as an American, I am proud of the things our leaders have done, and have been willing to do, for our freedom. I’m also proud of the things they planned but decided not to do. Maybe, one day, these things will make the papers, or someone will write a book.

In any case, one day soon, when my brother’s family finally moves into their new home at Fort Dix, I am going to take a bunch of American flags in a box to the post office, and ship them to him. I don’t have to fly them on the mailbox any more. They are his now. They always were. He’s earned them, and he’s earned my thanks and respect.

Teaching the Next Generation

The Dauphin, ca. 2010

The other night at dinner, my son, the Dauphin, told me that, after giving the subject a lot of thought, he would like to take up competitive pistol shooting.

Needless to say, I am pleased, and excited. We talked about the different sports – GSSF, USPSA, IDPA, Steel Challenge – and which he would like to try first. Our conclusion was that GSSF would be a great start, given that it doesn’t require drawing, reloading, or moving.

However, there are only 3 GSSF matched in my area in any one year, and the next one won’t be until next February. It became clear that he really wanted to get into shooting quickly, and USPSA, with 3 matches per month in our area, gave the best opportunity for that.

So, we talked about what skills he would need to learn, and we came up with a training plan to get him competing the quickest. There are basically two phases – dry fire and live fire – and the two phases may naturally overlap depending on how fast he learns.

The skills he will need to learn include drawing from a holster, changing magazines, moving between shooting positions, and shooting on the move. Here’s how we saw him training and learning:

Dry fire Live fire
Trigger control
Magazine changes

He can even do a lot of the moving-and-shooting training using his air-soft gun.

Next, I will post about the specific drills and skills he will be practicing.


I will admit a certain caution in taking on this training program. Some time ago, my wife and I were learning to snow ski, and I tried to teach her what I knew. It was not pretty. Suffice it to say that, once I exhaust what I know about drills, I may skip the drama and go straight to paid instruction. Fortunately, in my area there are a lot of good teachers.


Some day, soon, he will score better than I in a USPSA match. I’m not sure how I will feel when that happens.

Stay tuned.

Family Matters

Picture unrelated, mostly.

It is a time of change here in the FYH household.

My daughter has her first serious boyfriend, and he has come to visit several times. Last time, I happened to need to clean guns, so I made that announcement and left them on the couch, crouched over their laptops, and set off for the workshop.

Of course, I watched for the young man’s reaction, and there was none to speak of. He didn’t seem to cringe from the idea, nor did he offer to come help, or even ask what kinds of guns I was going to clean.

Nevertheless, as a good father, I’ve thought about what this could mean, and here are my possible conclusions, in order of highest probability to least probability:

> He didn’t hear me, being too engrossed in Facebook or studying civil engineering.

> He heard me, but my daughter had warned him of the possibility of my gambit, and convinced him that he had nothing to fear.

> He heard me, but he comes from a family where cleaning guns is a normal weekend thing, and he was afraid to ask, worried that I might try to get him to clean AR gas tubes all afternoon instead of doing the Facebook thing, or studying civil engineering.

> He heard me, but he comes from a family that is indifferent to guns, and it wasn’t enough to steal him from Facebook or civil engineering.

> He heard me, but he comes from a family that is actively anti-gun, and he decided to wait for another time to bring it up.

> He heard me, but he also saw the 4 or 5 shovels I have in the garage, as well as the 20 acres of woods behind my house, and decided to play dumb.

In any case, I will try to actively engage him next time on the subject, maybe even invite him and my daughter to go shooting with me.

More to come . . . .