I’m not sure if I’m ready to write about the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs just yet, but this photo in today’s Gazette (by photographer Jerilee Bennett) inspires me to try.
Let there be no mistake, this was a disastrous, devastating blow to our community. Over 2,000 people remain out of their homes, and most of those residents returned recently to find a pile of rubble on the very spot where they used to fix supper, tuck kids into bed, water pots and feed hummingbirds. Complete rubble.
And yet, as the flag in the photo so clearly demonstrates, there is already beauty and hope coming from the ashes. The optimistic reactions of many of those who lost so much help the rest of us dry our eyes and jump in to do whatever we can to help. Their faith speaks to us. Our firefighters, police officers, and city officials have masterfully led our community through the worst disaster we have ever known, and their dedication will continue into our extended period of recovery. Above all, our flag still waves, saying as it has for over two centuries: Freedom will prevail. Good will overcome evil. Hope will outshine disaster. We will rise again!
I inherited my love for the flag from my dad, although I’m not sure I remembered to tell him I had finally caught his passion while he was still alive. It used to irritate me that he loved flags so much. Whenever our family visited a new city or national park, my dad would want us to pose for pictures at the base of a flagpole. To get the flag into the picture, he’d have to move to the other side of the street with the camera, so we have lots of vacation shots with my sisters and me barely discernible as we rallied ‘round the flagpole for dear old dad.
In the 8-millimeter home movies, we’re trying madly to out-wave the flag, along with occasionally pinching or shoving one another, but you have to look closely to see who’s who—because the flag is still the star.
The flag I put out on national holidays year after year, home after home, was a gift from my dad. Like old friends, old flags are best. But years ago, when it began to show signs of so much time in the Colorado wind, I retired it to a corner of the hall closet and got a brand new one.
This 4th of July I plan on displaying both flags. I do so with a grateful heart. Grateful for all the service men and women who sacrifice so much to guarantee our freedom as a nation. Grateful for the public servants who protect and serve us. And grateful for God who was with us in the fire, and who can and will bring beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3). God bless us all.
Carol Johnson Howard says
Thanks Nancy for such a touching memory shared with us all. May your flag continue to wave as does mine with memories of yesterday and today. Best wishes for a great holiday and recovery from the devastation in your area. Love and prayers!
Thanks so much, Carol. I pray that the timing of the 4th of July coming when it did will really help us heal.
Laurie Geisz says
Nancy, beautifully written… thank you. And wasn’t last night’s rain soothing love from heaven? I could almost feel our land healing. Happy 4th of July to you! Enjoy your flags and God’s blessings:)
Yes, the rain was wonderfully soothing to the soul–even the smell of it! Happy 4th to you and yours!
Lea Ann says
As your articles so often do, this one brought tears to my eyes. Having been through this fire in my own Mtn. Shadows neighborhood, I’ve experienced a wide range of emotions. It began with fear and adrenaline on Saturday as I began packing to evacuate; thanksgiving that my home wasn’t under full evacuation so I could return for more precious items & memories; shock as I drove to my home Tuesday afternoon with rivers of flame pouring over the ridge; relief as I fled that afternoon to safety, relinquishment as I let go of my home & possessions Tuesday night watching the inferno in Mtn. Shadows on TV, peace as I was held by God in the midst of it all; joy with restraint when I heard my home had survived, and deep sorrow for friends and so many others who have lost their homes and a lifetime of memories. There are no words for what it was like returning to Mtn. Shadows on Sunday and seeing first-hand the devastation. Thank you Nancy for this photo and the reminder that God will bring beauty from ashes, I believe that with all my heart. And THANK YOU public servants for all you’ve done to preserve Mtn. Shadows to the fullest of your ability. We are forever grateful.
I know you are going to be reliving all those emotions for awhile, Lea Ann. Thanks for sharing your insights and I pray time will soften the hard memories and cement the good ones!! Love you.
Charlie Fusco says
Oh Nancy! How much you stirred my heart with this tribute to the flag and all that means to us as Americans. Through tears I say “thank you” for writing such an intimate accounting of what you’re experiencing. It proves what my Daddy always said: “The greenest grass doesn’t grow on the mountaintops,; it grows in the valleys.”
Your dad spoke words of wisdom! Thanks for taking time to comment, Charlie. Happy 4th!
Below the vivid flag is the equally vivid image of you and your sisters bumping each other, trying to out-wave the flag.
A wonderful total picture. I think your dad would be proud.
You got it! And I can still feel the elbowing now! Being the “middle” sister I got it from both sides! Happy 4th!
Donna Wesley says
Nancy: I was on vacation on the 4th of July and just got around to reading the e-mail forwarded to me by a dear friend. Thank you so much for your beautiful words posted about our flag. I am the mother of a colonel in the Army who has served 26 years under this flag and the grandmother in law of a captain in the Air Force who although only serving 5 years thus far, will be leaving for Afghanistan shortly. It is because of the sacrifices these warriors and their families have endured, that our flag still flies. Your dad had it right on and my heart swells when I think of people like him who truly know what this flag means. We must keep the knowledge of the sacrifices made that represent this flag, if not it, will be lost never to retain the freedom we now have.
Thanks so much for your comments, Donna. It’s because of the sacrifices of families like yours that our flag still waves! I pray your grandson-in-law will have a safe tour of duty.