Retiring His Colors

There’s a path that leads from our backyard to the property of an older gentleman. There’s no fence dividing our two lots, just a sparsely wooded and grassy area. We take the path to his house every couple of days to collect fresh vegetables and mow his lawn. Mr. TerryHis name is Mr. Terry.

I’ve heard some older men call him T.R., but the years that divide our ages are so numerous, I don’t feel quite right calling him T.R., whatever that stands for.
Mr. Terry is a veteran of the Korean War and as such, flies two flags on his flag pole every morning, the Stars and Stripes and a custom flag with a Korean War insignia. The flags are up long before I’m awake and are put away every day at sundown. I’m sure he would fly them around the clock, but as a veteran, he is very aware of the rules for flying flags after dark, those being the need to have them lit if flown after the sun goes down. I’m not sure if that rule applies to his custom flag, but I assume he would treat that flag with similar respect.
Two years ago Mrs. Terry died, of what I don’t know, but I remember his flag flown at half-mast for a long time. I don’t really know what protocol is concerning how long you can fly a flag at half-mast, but it’s his flag and his wife, so if he decided to raise the flag only half way up that flag pole for the rest of his life, I don’t think anybody would say anything.
It’s obvious to me now; Mrs. Terry was the out-going one in that couple, and with her passing, so went Mr. Terry’s social courage. He’s as affable a fellow as I’ve ever met. But, to catch him outside, striking up conversations with the occasional passer-by, is a thing of the past. If you want to talk to Mr. Terry, you can catch him at either sun-up or sun-down, posting or retiring his colors with a brief salute and a few mumbled words –to either the flag or his sweetheart I don’t know.

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