A few weekends ago I was visiting my aunt and uncle’s home on Lake Oconee. As I walked down to their dock to take in the views, I was caught off guard by the American Flag waving in their yard. It was one of those perfectly blue skied days, and the flag, perched high up on the pole, was waving in that stereotypical way that gives you chills when you see it.
It reminded me of my dad’s uncle Gus. Gus loved America. I remember one Sunday when I was visiting my Nana we saw Gus installing a flag pole in his back yard. Once the pole and ropes were securely set, we met him out by the pole. As the 7 or 8 of us half circled up around the pole, we watched as Gus, and probably one of his grandsons, unfold the flag (it was kept in the appropriate military fold, of course) and then raise it. Next thing you know, we were saying the Pledge of Allegiance. And then, as if on cue, we broke out into song with God Bless America. Let it be known that Gus’ family got the good singing voices when Maw-Maw was passing them out…and my family did not. But we sang. And it was beautiful. And it made me grateful for Gus, and for my country, and for Gus’ love of our country. I miss him tremendously.
I remember being in elementary school and saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning, and the Pledge to the Georgia Flag. To be honest, I couldn’t even remember the Georgia Pledge and had to look it up:
“I pledge allegiance to the Georgia Flag and to the principles for which it stands: Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation.”
It’s a shame I don’t know my own state pledge, but I have a feeling I’m not the only one. I do know that sometime between elementary school and the middle and high schools we must have stopped saying the pledge. Or, wait, I faintly remember saying the Pledge of Allegiance in Highschool…maybe we only did that on Mondays? Do they still say the Pledge of Allegiance in schools today?
For something that signifies our country’s independence, it’s a shame that it is not a focal point of our society. It’s a shame that it gets minimized to having its own holiday much like Halloween or St Patrick’s day, coming out in record numbers around the 4th of July.
I know that there are others that still have that twinge of honor that comes when you see the low flying jets at sporting events. Or at fireworks when magically synched up to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless The USA”. Or sitting at the Stone Mountain laser show on a blanket with a bucket of KFC (what, y’all didn’t load up on the KFC and sides when you went to Stone Mountain as a kid?!). Or when you see men and women in uniform. Or a boy scout. It’s those moments that make me proud to be an American. I just hope we aren’t a dying breed of people who still respect and value what the flag stands for.
Our flag carries American ideas, American history and American feelings. It is not a painted rag. It is a whole national history. It is the Constitution. It is the Government. It is the emblem of the sovereignty of the people. It is the NATION.
-Henry Ward Beecher, 1861
And forever in peace may she wave,