Friday, December 7, 2012

Respecting the Flag

I stood and watched a woman shed tears today.

They were not tears of sadness.

At the last minute, I was invited to give the invocation and closing prayer at the dedication of a flag pole at the new police station in Bellville, TX.  The lady who was running the program called at about 10 a.m. telling me the pastor she had lined up to handle the ceremony had an emergency come up and was not able to attend.  She wondered if I might have time to handle the responsibilities on such short notice.

Normally, Fridays are my day off.  I usually don't work or respond to anything on Friday unless it's an emergency. 

This was different.  I could have said no, but it was something I didn't feel I could turn down.  I have deep respect for such gatherings, and I am truly glad I went.

Gathered there were numerous veterans who had come to participate in this moment.

Gathered there were the Bellville chapter of the Woodmen of the World.

Gathered there were various elected city officials.

Gathered there were other workers who had come to observe this dedication on a significant day in the life of our nation--Pearl Harbor Day.

I gave the invocation, and the rest of the ceremony proceeded.  The flag was presented by the veterans to the police chief, and the chief ran the flag up the staff.  He then lowered it to half-mast.  We said the Pledge of Allegiance.  We heard words about Pearl Harbor Day.  We heard a poem about the flag, and then Taps was played.

The elderly woman in front of me had tears rolling down her face.  As the song finished, she wiped them away.

Usually, I am not moved that deeply by such ceremonies.  I am proud to be an American citizen and proud of my country and the people who served it.  My heart gives a leap, and I feel a deep sense of pride when I am a part of such ceremonies, but I do not shed tears. 

Others do.  Something deep within them is struck, and the emotions run deep.  Their respect is something to behold.

I thought about those vets there today.  I thought about this woman shedding tears.  I thought about what they stood for and what they went through.  Some of those vets fought in WWII.  That woman was around when Pearl Harbor was bombed.  She and her family probably sacrificed much in that war effort.  And that flag became a very important symbol for them--very important.

I thought about those who burn the flag and their arguments for why they do so.  I thought about how these folks gathered here must feel about seeing such things.  I thought about the fact that some of those standing there had fought for the right for someone to do such a thing.  And I thought, "A person may have the right to burn the flag of our nation, but is such a thing the responsible thing to do?"

As I mulled this over, I thought, "No.  Such an act is not responsible.  It's highly disrespectful for those whom this flag stands as such a symbol, and a respectful person who stood there looking at this woman and that group of old men who fought, wouldn't dare do such a thing.  They would express their disapproval of things in a more respectful fashion."

I was taught early on to respect the flag of our country.

Today, I understand a little more just what it means to do that.

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