Monday, March 13

Why I Fly The American Flag

Someone told me that if I could express why showing respect to the U.S. flag was important, that he would consider flying his flag properly rather than upside-down as a protest of the current administration. This is what I wrote:

Throughout the history of the world, humanity has rarely tasted freedom. History is replete with tales of domination by rulers, kings, and tyrants. The suffering and oppression of one man at the whim of another is the typical state of affairs. We may not appreciate this since many do not have a historical perspective and most of us have never known anything but freedom. A common attitude seems to be: Freedom? It's like air; so what's the big deal?

Freedom is vital because it allows each of us to exercise free will, thus it allows us to achieve the level of self-actualization at the apex of Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. Free will is the essence of being human; it is the unique characteristic which exists nowhere else in creation as far as we know. I believe it is the divine reflection of God's image in each of us.

I fly the flag every day to show pride in my country. To me it represents the spirit of a proud and courageous group of people and their commitment to the noble and precarious ideal of freedom.

However, some of my countrymen are much too sophisticated to express a love of country. They don't find anything of which to be especially proud in the principles expressed in our Declaration of Independence, nor do they recognize the wisdom and genius of our founding fathers in writing the U.S. Constitution. They fancy themselves to be "citizens of the world" and look to the United Nations for principled leadership. Such folks consider flying our flag to be an expression of blustery, macho jingoism; an assertion that we are better than people of other countries. Such folks mock our country and prefer to dwell endlessly on all her mistakes and flaws.

But these folks miss the point. Every country has flaws; what really matters is whether we have made, and will continue to make, progress in acknowledging and overcoming those flaws. By any standard, we have done remarkably well in a very short period of time. So when someone disrespects the flag he shows that he doesn't value his country nor understand her unique contribution to the history of the world. It means he is not prepared to make sacrifices nor does he appreciate the sacrifices made of others in defending precious liberty.

When I see Old Glory wave, or see the Statue of Liberty, or hear the Star-Spangled Banner I feel a swelling in my chest and a lump in my throat. I feel an overwhelming sense of awe and love. I feel humility toward those whose sacrifice for liberty I can never possibly repay. I feel a profound sense of continuity with my departed father and others of the finest generation who served with honor in World War II. Because I fully grasp the horrors of war, I realize how courageous my ancestors truly must have been. I revere those who protected liberty from tyrants over the course of more than two centuries.

Some parts of the world still subsist in the Dark Ages; some countries have experienced the Enlightenment but seem to want to return to the dark. But when I see the Stars and Stripes wave, I feel hope that our noble experiment in freedom will not flicker out as a candle in the wind-- a mere fluke in the long timeline of history. I want to contribute my part throughout life to carry the flame so that our children will be able to breathe in the sweet smell of liberty, and pass it along to their children. I also want oppressed people of all other countries to experience this thrill called freedom. We are the strongest county in the world and as such we have a responsibility to lead and show others what is possible when a people embrace freedom coupled with individual responsibility and acting within the principles of the Golden Rule.

The flag is more than a piece of cloth. The flag represents much more than actions of any particular President; Presidents make mistakes; Presidents come and go. The flag represents much more than Republican or Democrat; it represents all of us regardless of political affiliation. The flag stands for our collective spirit and our shared values as a people.

I have a deep, abiding, unshakable love of my country and its people and our leadership role in the world. That's why I fly our flag. Proudly. Every day.

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