Today I contemplated the flag; not just any flag – the American Flag. As the full sized stars and stripes fluttered on the early evening breeze in our backyard, I considered just what “Old Glory” means to me.
I remember learning the Pledge of Allegiance early on in grade school. We always said the Pledge and then we sang America the Beautiful. Every kid in school knew all of the words to both and although early on we had no idea what “allegiance” meant or why we were singing about a “fruited plain,” we all eventually figured it out.
The flag always held a special meaning, although I’m not sure I ever realized how special the US flag was until Rhys joined the military. Somewhere along the line, the flag became just a routine item in the landscape, its true significance lost in the business of living. In fact, for most of my adult life I don’t remember the flag’s comfortable presence on streets throughout America, certainly not here in California.
Then came September 11, 2001. The flags went up everywhere. Those of us lulled into the comfort that is America woke up. The American flag truly symbolized a national spirit again. It symbolized the fighting, patriotic spirit that built America. It was an awesome thing to behold.
Our son Rhys felt it too. The events of 9-11 and the country coming together in its grief and proud heritage had a huge impact on Rhys and so many other young men and women. Rhys had to wait 3 more years to join the military but when he joined the California National Guard right out of high school his Dad and I understood. Rhys knew what the flag symbolized and what it meant to stand up for an America he believed in. He understood that America and her flag have always represented freedom to an outside world that envied the American dream and longed to be a part of it.
When Rhys was killed in Iraq, the “Stars and Stripes” developed new meaning for Michael and for me. A polished honor guard folding the flag and a Brigadier General handing you that triangle at your son’s funeral is an experience you never forget. The Pledge of Allegiance symbolizes a love for country and a duty that Rhys understood at such a young age. As we say the Pledge, it resonates with us in a way few other symbols can. As the flag flutters in the breeze it brings a personal pride in America; a country firmly based on the rights endowed to us by God, fought for and built upon the blood of young men and women.
There are lots more flags now, or maybe it’s just that I notice them more now than at any other time in my life. All I know is that the American flag to me is the most beautiful flag in the world. When it flies, all others pale in comparison. It makes me proud to be an American. The Stars and Stripes: Long may they wave.
Lynn Jardinico is an talented writer whose unique life perspective gives her fuel to write with hard biting realism and just the right blend of tongue in cheek humor. She covers subjects as diverse as technical roofing industry articles, and open and honest articles on Faith, Family & Americanism that are sure to delight your senses.