(A note of thanks to Chris and Yvette Cain who for 4 years published the famous July 4th “Flag Count” for various streets and sections of the town.)

Whose flag is this, I think I know

Hanging soft in village evening glow.

These neighbors I won’t see today,

They be off somewhere at work or play.

The resident rabbits might think it queer

That I gaze at stripes and stars so clear.

Soft rippling in the gentle breeze,

To carry our Nation through stormy seas.

(My apologies to Robert Frost for this presumptuous play on his famous New England snowy  woodland-scene poem!)

I have often pondered on the role of the American Flag in our town, in my personal life, and in our nation.  There was a time fifty-five years ago – a time of war and deep national division – when I had grave doubts about this symbol of our nation.  And yet, now I like seeing the flags that hang in front of homes, schools, town offices and the Police and Fire Stations.  I ask myself, “Why this change of attitude?”  Maybe it is a function of my increasing age.  Or perhaps it is the result of many decades of slowly rediscovering the lost chapters of my family history.  Generations past where forbears fled to this land from religious wars in France, political strife and conflict in Germany, religious persecution in England, and land clearances and national allegiance wars in Scotland.   These earlier generations forged a new country for those who live here now.  We are fortunate.  A mix of extraordinary human efforts – as well as the heavy baggage of demonstrated human failings and sins – has brought us to this present time in our nation’s history.  My changing viewpoint is also from a long life of seeing more recent new arrivals coming full of hope from all the many nations of the world.  They see in our political structure and geography and natural wealth, a place of opportunity, to serve both their families and their new country – and indeed, the world.

The flag represents a statement of thanks and respect for the efforts and dedication of those who came before us.  Different folks – be they soldiers or sailors, patriots or builders, “old school” or “new school” in their thinking – will fly our flag with different emotions and reasoning.  But for all – in the most difficult of times – this flag represents a sense of hope and pride in what our country has done – and what it can do – to build a Good World despite all the challenges.  The American Flag is an enduring symbol that serves to preserve a sense of national union.  For all that, the flag will fly proudly beside doorways and on high poles both today and for many tomorrows. Chris and Yvette Cain did well to give some Holliston focus on our Stars and Stripes!

Walter McClennen

Mudville,  October, 2023

Walter McClennen


  1. Chris and Yvette Cain on June 12, 2024 at 2:29 am

    Walter – Thanks for the shout out.
    We are currently cruising the Baltic Sea and noticing how many Danish, Polish, Swedish, and German flags / pennants fly from homes we pass.
    Your post has inspired us to, once again, hit the streets of Holliston on July 4th to continue our annual flag count.
    Warm regards, Chris and Yvette

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