OK, this isn’t hard. It’s something that we all learned in school (or, should have learned in school). Memorial Day is Monday and we need to remember what we do when we display or see the American flag.
First, the colors of the flag mean something. White symbolizes purity and innocence. Red stands for courage, hardiness and valor. And, blue represents vigilance, justice and freedom. The fifty stars (for the fifty states) remind us to look upward, beyond our circumstances. And, the stripes (representing the first 13 states) let us never forget that others have stood on the battlefield for us. Bottom line – the American flag, our flag, my flag isn’t simply a decoration with colors selected at random.
Second, a display of our flag should never be trivial or for commercial purposes. The American flag, our flag, my flag is to be flown with respect and thought. It is displayed with care. We don’t let it touch things below it like the ground, the floor, water or merchandise. We place it at the most respected position among other flags. We keep it in good condition: never allowing it to be marked on or flown with tears or tatters.
Third, we respect it when it comes into our presence. We stand. We face our flag. We remove our hats. We stand still and silently. We put right hands over our hearts with our left hand staying still at our side. If we are in a public place and hear through the loud speaker that the flag is entering or we hear the beginning of our national anthem, we stop what we are doing and we show respect for our flag, even though it is beyond our line of sight. We respect our flag and we honor those who have fought for the freedom it represents.
And, we teach these courtesies to others. We model what we teach.
It isn’t easy. It doesn’t take a lot of time. But, it is important.
When I see our flag I think of old men with tattered ball caps held tightly against their chests. I think of flag draped caskets of those who have served. I think of young children learning to say the pledge of allegiance. And, I think of Moms, tears welling up in their eyes, as the flag is carried past them. I think of Boy Scouts struggling to carry a flag on a heavy pole. And, I think of three granddaughters singing our National Anthem. I think of America.
During this weekend, as you see our flag, would you take a moment and say a prayer that Americans will never stop taking the time to respect “Old Glory”? And, if you are like me, the tears will come and you will renew again your commitment to respecting the symbols that cost others their lives to give us our liberty.
Our freedom was paid for by others. We cannot fail to protect it for the next generation.