Flag Day, 2012
Times are good for the American flag, if not for the flagging American economy. The resurrection of flag-waving began just after September 11th, 2001. Although the surge dipped a little during the 2004 election, the flag made a come-back with the advent of the Tea Parties.
Still, it’s tough finding people to defend her. A group of Coney Island kindergarteners were forbidden from singing God Bless the U.S.A., the Lee Greenwood song, at their graduation because it might offend other cultures. Dedicating a song to the flag, and to the men who died to give the kindergartners the right to sing it, was just too much freedom for the principal of P.S. 90 and Nanny Bloomberg.
Even our band has a problem with finding people to defend the flag as we march down the street. Heck, we have a problem just finding someone to carry the Stars and Stripes. At our last parade, our flag-bearer went down the street unescorted, undefended. These are hard times, though, and we didn’t want to discourage the volunteer who carried it ahead of us.
The ultimate photograph of a flag-raising is the famous Iwo Jima photo, taken by Joe Rosenberg. What’s most interesting about the picture, among many interesting things, is that the soldiers all have their backs to the camera. Their names were finally discovered, although according to the book, Flags of Our Fathers, they would rather their names hadn’t been published.
They were probably right. Anonymous, they stand for all the soldiers who’ve ever fought and died for the flag. Without the flag, we’d have no identity as a free people. Under this flag, people live freely. If it were to be torn down, burnt, desecrated, and abolished, where would free people go? How could they prove that they’re free?
Other free peoples have had flags, and they were taken down or changed. This is a flag that has a license (The Declaration of Independence) and an owner’s manual (The U.S. Constitution). This is a flag that guarantees there will be no monarchs, tyrants, or dictators. This is a flag that says, “You can relax; you’re in a free land.”
We mustn’t take the flag for granted, though. Many men died to keep it flying. Many men perished protecting it. Many men wish they lived under its protection.
Remember to salute the flag today, and when you do, think of all those who gave their lives defending it. Many gladly carry it and wave it, but what would you do to defend the American flag?