I took the top photo at about 8:15 this morning. The river is the St. Marys River and the green horizon beyond that is Florida. It was one of those moments that held me transfixed as I was overcome by pride/joy/sorrow. I stood offering silent thanks to our Creator, to all those who have come before who held fast to the dream of a place where freedom reigns. The sight of our flag waving in the cool morning breeze reminded me once again that freedom is not free.
I don’t consider myself a super patriot. On probably too many occasions I criticize the Federal Government in general and the Bush administration in particular. But I understand just how blessed I am to live in America, to have the right to vote, to enjoy the freedom to live my life as I see fit, to worship free of government's grasp. And today I was once again struck by the simple beauty of our national flag. I think too many times it becomes ornamentation in our lives, just the backdrop to some group function. In our daily grind we forget just how important our Old Glory truly is.
Simple symbolism. Seven red stripes and six white represent the thirteen colonies at the beginning of our journey to nationhood. Fifty stars in a blue field for the fifty states, each separate yet integral to the inviolate whole. Our flag demonstrates our unity as a nation, as a people. It reminds us of who we are and from where we come. It is a symbol of our might and our commitment to right, of our compassion and of our steadfastness in the face of adversity. It is the reminder of the blood spilled, of the lives lost in our defense.
As a proud American and a former Marine the Iwo Jima image is for me and for many of us particularly potent. The Greatest Generation's fight on two disparate and but equally deadly fronts. We were still a nation in the making until the slumbering giant awoke to the sound of guns, the scream of battle, the looming threat.
Despite ourselves, despite the shoddy treatment we have too many times given our veterans we are blessed beyond all measure.
To ALL the veterans out there, thank you.