In the week leading up to the Fourth of July, a number of themes could be heard, read or seen in the media. Many included the holiday weekend and how people would spend their time. Parades, picnics, parties, and cookouts were common topics of everything from morning radio to the evening news. In some cases, talk show hosts lamented the fact, the “true meaning” of the holiday was being lost, but most celebrated its coming.
There were other holiday-related topics and themes discussed in various forms. A few conservative talk radio hosts made a big deal out of a resolution by the Eugene, Oregon Town Council to say the Pledge of Allegiance four times a year. The controversy, if there was one, was over the fact some people thought saying the Pledge was inappropriate, and others could not understand why it wasn’t recited more often.
One caller to the “Michael Medved Show” expressed his sentiments by saying he thought it was silly to pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth. The caller claimed to be a “conservative,” whatever that means to him or anyone else. He also claimed to love the United States and suggested reading excerpts from the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution instead of saying the Pledge at public meetings and in school. He did say the United States flag was the prettiest flag of any in the world, but it was nothing but a piece of cloth.
The flag of the United States of America is made of cloth. It is not simply a “piece of cloth.” In spite of the efforts of some who have done their best to diminish the meaning of the flag in this country and other parts of the world, it is still more than a red, white and blue banner flown over government buildings. It is more than a patch worn on the seat of a pair of jeans, a design on running shorts or a banner for a car dealer.
Old Glory is the symbol of this nation, the United States of America. It is a symbol, which has been envied, feared and loved by people around the world, throughout its history. It is a symbol that brings cheers when raised as a sign of freedom, independence, and honor. It is a symbol that causes enemies to scurry back under their rocks when it is flown by our armed forces. It is a symbol that brings hope to the tens of thousands of immigrants seeking a future in the United States each year.
The title of this piece is an interrogative. The question is, “Does the flag still wave proudly?” With people attacking the flag and the nation for which it stands from within and without, can it still fly proudly?
Anyone paying attention to the news knows some in this country would say Old Glory cannot fly proudly. The country has made too many mistakes and committed too many acts of aggression under this banner. They are ashamed of the flag and the nation. They are, I trust, in the minority.
The flag flew proudly at my church Sunday morning as the choir led the congregation in the Star Spangled Banner. It flies proudly yet mournfully over the graves of our fallen soldiers in cemeteries across the country. It flies proudly on military bases in Iraq, Afghanistan and other threatened or struggling countries around the world. It is still a symbol of freedom, democracy and hope to billions of people who dream of living in the United States or making their country more like the States. Don’t let anyone tell you it is simply a piece of cloth!