The Flag of the United States of America
While the American flag is popping up everywhere–in shops, along roadways, in yards, on buildings, and on cars, my mind wanders back to a time when the Flag of the United States of America was carefully draped over my father’s casket. Coming from an abusive home controlled by my alcoholic father, I have very few memories of my father. I guess my mind chose not to remember them and they are gone now. But one memory that I have of my father is that he taught me loyalty to this great land of ours.
As a very small child, I learned to stand and place my hand over my heart whenever I saw a flag. It didn’t matter where the flag was–in the grocery store, on a book, in our play area in the backyard, or in a parade. When seeing that flag, I quickly stood at attention and placed my hand over my heart. As young as I was, I knew that flag was meant to be respected. And it breaks my heart to see people ignoring, degrading, burning, spitting on, stomping, wadding up, tearing, and treating with contempt our flag–the symbol of this country. The little girl in me wants to jerk them up by their collars, get eye-to-eye with them and straighten them out!
Obviously, these misguided people do not understand what our flag means to Americans. This is not some misshapen piece of cloth! From the beginning of this country in 1774, our red, white, and blue flag has been the symbol of marking our territory and for guiding the way. Various designers from Francis Hopkins, Betsy Ross, Mary Pickersgill, and Selby Abbey have had input in designing the flag. Robert G. Heft designed the current 50 star flag.
This flag is so important to us that it has its own code! The United States Flag Code outlines certain guidelines for the use, display, and disposal of the flag. The flag should never be lowered or dipped to any person or thing, unless the person carrying it is responding to a salute from a ship of a foreign nation. This tradition may come from the 1908 Summer Olympics in London, where countries were asked to dip their flag to King Edward VII. The American flag bearer did not dip the American flag. Martin Sheridan, (Team captain) is quoted as saying “this flag dips to no earthly king.” (Way to go, Sheridan!)
The American flag should never be allowed to touch the ground and, if flown at night, must be illuminated. If the edges become tattered through wear, the flag should be repaired or replaced. When a flag is so tattered that it can no longer serve as a symbol of the United States, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning.
Section 8 of the Code, entitled Respect For Flag states in part: “The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.”
Though not part of the official Flag Code, according to military custom, flags should be folded into a triangular shape when not in use. And the Code has the exact way it is to be folded. (I remember long hours of practicing how to fold our flag as a Girl Scout.)
The soldiers who folded the flag from my father’s casket, carefully and precisely snapped the flag into place with each fold. Just before the casket was lowered into the ground, the flag was presented to my mother as a sign of respect. As a grown woman, it still touched my heart and reminded me of the numerous brave souls through the years that had followed this flag in battle, courageously defending it and what it stands for–a symbol of freedom and hope.
Somewhere along the line, we’ve become sidetracked–deceived by evil. Our flag is no longer respected…or loved. But it’s not simply our flag that has lost its regard, respect, or inspiration. Our people have sunken to the lowest point of degradation in our country’s history. We have dishonored our marriages. We have painfully shamed our children by not being godly role models and left them exposed to the consequences of our compromise and tolerance. We have humiliated ourselves in our daily lives ‘getting along,’ and failing to take a stand for right and against wrong. We have embarrassed our families, our country, and most importantly our God. We are worse than Sodom and Gomorrah for we know what we are doing and choose to do it anyway!
We’ve made bad, selfish choices. It’s high time we fall on our faces in remorse and repentance before the one, true God and ask Him for forgiveness. He promises to forgive us if we confess (1 John 1:9). Then we can face a new day clean, and with confidence that He will guide us as we pick up the pieces of our lives. That’s called redeeming the time (Eph. 5:15-17).
Will you be alert and listen when God guides you? Will you choose good over evil (Psalm 34:14; Romans 12:21)? Obedience over regrets (Deut.11:26-28; Hebrews 13:17)? Truth over dishonesty (Prov. 18:4: 7, 20, 21)? Kindness over being blind to the needs around you (Heb. 6:10; Matt. 25:35-40; 1 John 3:16-18)? Your lifestyle is built around the choices that you make daily!
Step out in faith, trusting God. Seek the Lord’s insight and viewpoint in all of your decisions. Learn to think, “At this moment, is what I’m doing pleasing to God?” (James 1:5). Put on your armor and stand…watching the Lord fight your battles (Eph. 6: 11). Then go through your day praising God (Ps. 34:1; Ps. 147:1; Ps. 71:8, 14).
The Flag of the United States of America, Old Glory, The Star – Spangled Banner is a symbol of freedom and hope. In the dark of night, if we can see our flag still waving, even in difficult times, we are encouraged and we march on towards it.
In like manner, in our daily lives filled with busyness, conflict, traffic, family, and jobs, if we keep our eyes glued to the Lord and His Word, we are inspired to persevere–to keep on keeping on standing on His promises. We then experience unexplainable peace which fills us with freedom as we go about our days. We march out with confidence that God will lead us, thus giving us hope that each appointment and responsibility will be used as an opportunity to point others to the Lord.
So while celebrating our flag, rejoice that the Lord is our Hope and in Him is true freedom!