I have been asked to pen a few words as I depart the position of Chairman of the Board of Directors for the VAHS. Please bear with me as my thoughts unfold.
“The flag is down!” “I’m sorry, what did you say?” “The flag is down!” With obvious puzzlement on my face, he said again, “the flag is down!”
As my son and grandson assisted me in moving some heavy items from our home in preparation for the upcoming sale and subsequent move, a neighbor rode up on his bicycle. His opening greeting was, “the flag is down.” It dawned on me – obviously he had tied the realtor’s for sale sign and the flag coming down on our front porch as the signal we were moving.
In further reflection, I thought back over the 20 plus years that we had lived in our home and the seemingly innocuous signals the Stars and Stripes flying from our front porch had sent to neighbors and others. Putting the flag out each morning and retiring it in the evening meant we were up, my pal Jake (our dog) and I were off for our morning walk and he’d been let out for the final time in the evening. When we were away for an extended period of time the flag was absent, unknowingly to me sending a message to our neighbors that we were gone. Many years ago, a neighbor mentioned to me, that he was then inclined to keep a closer watch on our home knowing we were gone. I had a passing thought that perhaps I should leave it out all of the time. Our home which sets back from the road never seemed complete if Old Glory was not unfurled and streaming in the breeze. On rainy and windy days, you would see and hear it flapping in the wind. The sun bleached it and a replacement was required – this occurred several times in 21 years. Because we lived on several acres, I had the freedom of disposing of it properly – by burning. It was always a solemn and meaningful time for me – as each flag had watched over our home for several years. But a new, fresh, and vivid flag was already flying, on duty, continuing the watch. I am hoping that the new owners will continue the tradition – perhaps they too will value the significance and the messages it sends.
Back to my neighbor’s comment, “the flag is down”, brings me to the real intent of this article. As I presently gaze at the flag flying from the deck of our new home, and just as the flag at our former home was not down – only in transition, I am reminded the same is true with the VAHS we too are in transition.
It would be easy for me to take a few moments reviewing the last two- and one-half years as I served as your chairman of the board of directors. Covering our accomplishments, the various challenges we faced, particularly under the COVID 19 situation, and what the future promises. In other words, the normal “end of tour” report. But, if I may, please let me digress in metaphoric fashion by saying that just like the flag flying at our new home the VAHS flag is flying and is in solid hands under the leadership of Tom Woodburn, the new chairman and our very talented and dedicated members of the board of directors.
Thank you for the opportunity to have served – it has been my honor and pleasure.