The land below the Red, White and Blue

Published 3:44 pm Wednesday, July 4, 2018

When I pass an American flag with those familiar stars and stripes flying above me, I momentarily forget the news of the day, the political rhetoric, and the state of our divisiveness. Instead, there is a swelling of pride and a reminder of how fortunate I am to have been born in the land below the flag.

I should fly the banner above my television to keep me from shouting obscenities at the screen when the news makes it seem there is nothing good to report about our country. Perhaps I should paint my walls with stars and stripes to calm me down after listening to politician’s rant and spread hatred. Yes, I need the flag.

When the red, white and blue drapes a soldier’s coffin, my heart mourns for the many who have suffered and died so that our banner continues to wave over a free land. 

When the flag is hoisted above a school ground, or over a library, or atop a government building, I remind myself of the privileges that enable all Americans to go to school, read any book we choose and to freely elect or reject our leaders.

The American flag flying at half-mast brings tears to my eyes because it symbolizes a loss or a tragedy which has brought our citizens to their collective knees. Our flag is a symbol of our hope, unification, spirit and glory. To gain our Independence was a task deemed impossible by many of our ancestors in the early 1700s. Courage, intelligence and conviction turned an impossibility into the United States of America. From 1776 until today, we have defended the right to stay united and free.

Most of us were alive in 2001 when terrorists attacked our nation. We watched an atrocity which caused our country to unite in grief and prayer. We forgot we were Democrats or Republicans with differences, and instead collectively shouted, “This is our country, our flag and we will defend it!” We ran outside to raise the red, white and blue above our porches and in our yards because we who mourned were all Americans.

When we argue over guns, immigration, taxes, healthcare or over which candidate is the best, we must pause for a moment and be grateful we can debate, disagree and sometimes behave like morons because we are free to open our mouths.

When we attend church and gather around a Sunday School water cooler to discuss what is wrong with our country, why not stop to give thanks to God for placing us in a land where we can freely worship, freely sing of glory and openly praise God and not a dictator.

This July 4, while the grill is heating, and the watermelon is chilling, why not pause for a moment to celebrate that we have food to eat and most of our children know no hunger? While the kids swim under the sun and play among the shade trees, let’s remind ourselves of the children in other countries who walk miles to escape violence and those who will perish along the way.

If we cut our finger while slicing the watermelon, let’s stop and remember we will probably not die because a “Doc in the Box” is within a mile and available when we do dumb things like slice our finger. We do not have to travel for miles searching for help.

As the fireworks explode into the night sky and cascade to the ground in vibrant colors, let’s pause to remember the soldier who hears bombs explode on a battlefield, witnesses his comrades fall, and does so to ensure we may continue celebrating Independence Day. 

I wish I could bring folks around our country together for one big July 4 picnic. I would ask all of America to join hands and give thanks to God for this great country we all call home and pray that he continues to let the red, white and blue wave proudly above our land.