All the recent controversy about people dishonoring our flag reminded me of an old Gazette column I’d like to share again. Long may she wave! And Happy 4th of July weekend!
One of the best parts of celebrating the Fourth of July is seeing so many grand ol’ flags on display. In store windows, on car antennas, or lining parade routes in all the small towns of our memories, the Stars and Stripes say America like nothing else can.
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 whole 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.
I think my dad was born a patriot. He was proud to be able to trace his roots back to the American Revolution, and although he served in the FBI instead of a branch of the military during World War II, he staunchly defended his country and its flag at every opportunity.
I’m not sure when the flag took on so much meaning for me, but living on foreign soil, then sending a young (first) husband off to Vietnam, had a lot to do with it. To this day, I can’t get through the national anthem at a football game without tearing up as I focus on the unfurled flag.
The flag I put out on national holidays year after year, home after home, was a gift from my dad. A few years ago it began to show signs of so much time in the Colorado wind, so I retired it to a corner of the hall closet and got a brand new one.
In addition to flying the flag, I usually make a flag cake with blueberry stars and strawberry stripes each 4th of July, along with homemade ice cream of course. And we even had a cat named for Betsy Ross because she was discovered abandoned on the Fourth of July.
But like old friends, old flags are best.
My second son, Tim, was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve by his dad. The ceremony was held on our back deck with all of our blended family seated in rows of chairs as the audience. Tim’s two small nieces and half-brother waved little flags in celebration. Draped from the deck railing behind him, as he raised his right hand and promised to defend the Constitution of the United States, was the tattered old flag he and his brother helped me display so many times throughout their growing-up years.
I know my dad was proud.