Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Childhood memories are sometimes the most vivid, and I distinctly remember being with my father one Saturday morning when I was a child. We had stopped in front of the courthouse and I heard this loud whipcrack high overhead as I stepped from the car. I looked up and saw a large flag snapping in the breeze. I knew what a flag was, for these were the years immediately after WWII and there were flags everywhere, but for some reason that I did not understand at the time, people were starting to ignore them again as they often do following a time of national emergency. As my father and I stepped onto the sidewalk, an elderly man stopped and placed his hand over his heart and stood looking up at the flag. I wondered what was happening and looked at Dad as he pulled impatiently on my arm. "What is wrong with him?" I whispered when we were a short distance away. "He was a soldier in the First World War," my father answered. Like a lot of things our parents tell us, this didn't make any sense. Adults were always doing incomprehensible things and I went on, anxious to get to the store where I was going to get a new pair of shoes that morning. I was all wrapped up in my own cares, and dismissed the incident from my mind. As I think about my question on that long ago morning, I am not sure I would be able to give any better answer than my father did. What was wrong with this elderly gentleman that made him stop on a busy sidewalk and place his hand over his heart? Why was he looking up with such intensity at a flag that was no more than a pretty object to me? Several years later during the American Bicentennial, a newspaper reporter decided he would place a flagpole on his front lawn and teach his children about the history of the flag and what it was supposed to mean to each of us. He was surprised when he went all over the city and could not find a flag in any of the stores. He wrote an article and it was printed in newspapers all across the country. Paul Harvey took up the cry and people demanded answers. Why weren't there any flags for sale, and why did people not fly them as they should. The American flag means something slightly different to each of us, but we all share common values about the country we love and what it means to be an American. All of our feelings -- the most intimate and precious of them -- are represented in our flag. I am proud that an organization called Raise the Flag has sought to do something to preserve our traditions about this important national emblem, and in doing so, to remind each of us that freedom isn't free. Each freedom we enjoy was purchased with the life blood of the millions that have gone on before us. We should never forget.

What is your community doing to draw attention to our flag?

Joe Prentis

No comments: