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The Grand Old Flag

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June 14th is Flag Day. Do you have an American flag mounted on your house? Since 9-11, it seems there are more flags flying than ever. You can’t go down a street in our town without seeing at least one home proudly flying Old Glory.


I have a large American flag mounted on the southern deck of my home. We live in the mountains so nobody sees it except family and friends, but that’s okay. I like watching it wave in the wind.


Sometimes the wind whips the flag up and it gets wrapped around the pole. In the past, I’d run out, take down the flag, and unknot it so it could once more fly free in the wind. An hour later, the scene would repeat itself. Some days, I’d make five or six trips outside to untangle the flag. A couple of years ago, I was in a car accident and ended up with a broken ankle. The first month I was home, I was in a wheelchair. That’s when I noticed a funny thing about Old Glory.


The flag got tangle up as usual, but because of my broken ankle, I couldn’t go outside to untangle it. Later that day, I noticed the flag flying free again. I watched the flag closely for the next month. Some days, it would get so wrapped around the pole that I thought it would never get untangled by itself. But it did. Sometimes, the flag would stay tangled up for days at a time, but eventually, it would work its way free and fly high and proud once more.


The actions of the flag serve as a perfect metaphor for what’s going on in our country today. Everything seems tangle up. Fear whips us into such a frenzied state that we’re willing to trade constitutional rights for an illusive promise of safety. Newscasters tell us we’re a country split in half. Blue against Red. Democrat verses Republican. Pro Choice verses Pro Life. The conservatives against the liberals. Hawks against Doves. The list goes on. Can such a snarled web ever be untangled? After watching our flag and reviewing history, I’m certain it can.


In the 50’s, we got tangled up in McCarthyism and the Cold War. In the 60’s, Americans were divided over segregation and civil rights. In the 70’s, we struggled with Vietnam, Kent State shootings, Watergate, and the first and only resignation of a President of the United States. As a country, we were as tangled as that flag, and at the time, there seemed no way to get beyond the forces that divided us.


But just like the flag, we eventually discovered a way to untangle ourselves, to make peace with our neighbor, and to fly proud and free again just like Old Glory. Throughout our history, Americans have always pushed through the fear to come back to our roots and to the basic principles of individual freedoms and justice for all. After watching that flag, I’m sure in time, we’ll do it again.    

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