Whenever I see our national flag, bright against the summer sky, two things come into my mind: a memory and a question.
The memory goes back to a little ceremony that took place every Fourth of July around the flagpole in my grandparents' front yard on Long Island, when I was a little girl of five or six or so.
Their house was right across the street from ours, so at the crack of dawn I'd dress hurriedly and race over to ring their doorbell. Fortunately, Grandpa was an early riser. Out he'd come carrying the neatly folded flag over his arm. At the pole, he'd untie ropes and fumble with different catches and pulley while I'd jump up and down, eager for what I considered the BIG moment.
Grandpa would give the rope a couple of test tugs. Then, with a nod in my direction, he'd begin to raise the flag.
"Oh, Columbia, the gem of the ocean," I'd sing out in my high, piping, child's voice, "the home of the brave and the free...."
Grandpa always joined in the chorus: "Three cheers for the red, white and blue," while a warm breeze gently blew the flag, now flying high at the top of the pole.
After that Grandpa and I would go into his kitchen where we'd eat cereal smothered with blueberries and cream while he told me stories about life in his native Germany and how he came to the United States when he was a young boy of 14. "I'm so grateful to God," Grandpa would say, "for the privilege of living in such a wonderful country. Always remember, Eleanor, how lucky you are..."
So that's the memory. And the question? It's this:
Does a person have to come from someplace else to appreciate... really appreciate... all that our country's flag stand for, all that it means?
I hope not.. I pray not.
Eleanor V. Sass
God of our fathers, give unto us, Thy servants, a true appreciation of our heritage, of great men and great deeds in the past, but let us not be intimidated by feelings of our own inadequacy for this troubled hour.
Remind us that the God they worshiped, and by whose help they laid the foundations of our Nation, is still able to help us uphold what they bequeathed and to give it new meanings.
Remind us that we are not called to fill the places of those who have gone, but to fill our own places, to do the work Thou hast laid before us, to do the right as Thou has given us to see the right, always to do the very best we can, and to leave the rest to Thee.
images courtesy of all posters