We are still swimming and sorting through 8800 pounds of stuff that we managed to collect and carry across the country to our new home. Eighty-eight hundred pounds. Of Army gear, baby gear, toddler toys, clothes, fabric, antiques, books, and impulse purchases…piled onto a mounting To Do list including arrange furniture, paint, trim trees, stain the deck, start a lawn…and yet my first trip to the store was for our flag. I’d been looking forward to putting one up on our house all summer long.
There was a time when I thought some people were too sensitive about our flag. Don’t get me wrong; I never thought it was okay to burn or otherwise totally disrespect the flag, but short of that I considered any further fuss about the American flag just that – fuss.
And then I grew up a little, and married a soldier, there was 9/11, and I sent my husband to war. And I understood. That the fuss about the flag – how to display it, how to fold it, how to take care of it – wasn’t so much about the flag as it was about honoring everything and everyone it stood for.
The weekend before we left Washington was Memorial Day weekend. I was feeling sad about our move out of the military. And when I walked into our (rather large) church auditorium, we were greeted by two huge American flags flanking either side of the stage. It actually took my breath away and I teared up at the sight of them. I was completely awed by them the entire service.
Never again will I be so apathetic about such a symbol. I feel extremely proud and lucky to have been born in this country. And I think it’s okay to be proud. Not arrogant, or cavalier. But grateful, humbled, and appreciative of everything we enjoy as Americans. I’m grateful for my freedom. And I’m especially grateful to those who volunteer to protect it. To protect us.
For those of you who lost a friend or family member six years ago or in the ensuing battle in Afghanistan since, I’m truly sorry for your loss. My family is thinking of you today.