From time to time someone donates an old tattered United States Flag to the Boy Scouts, or sometimes directly to our Cub Scout Pack, to be property retired. Earlier this month, we included a flag retirement ceremony as part of our annual crossover at the local Boy Scout camp. There we talked about the reason we retire flags, the symbolism of our nation’s flag, and the men and women who have given their lives fighting under that flag so we can enjoy the freedoms that exist in this country.
I saw a clip on YouTube this week that showed children playing on the playground of a Marine base. When colors sounded, the children stopped swinging, stood at attention, and saluted the flag as it was being raised. Such displays of patriotism, especially in our children, are becoming increasingly rare. Some people consider themselves citizens of the world rather than of our nation. Some are quick to offer apologies for the energy that our country uses, the wars that we have fought, and the capitalism that fuels our economy.
That is not how I see things at all. When I look at that flag, I see a country that went from the Mayflower to putting a man on the moon in about 350 years. I see a country that is generous and often sends aid to other nations first. I can still see Ronald Reagan’s Shining City on the Hill. A nation that is envied by others and still beacons those longing to be free.
As much as we complain about the lack of freedom in our country, we still enjoy liberties that other people will never know. The price for freedom is never free though. It was paid with the blood of our nation’s soldiers. They have sacrificed so much that we take for granted each day.
The backbone of our economy is capitalism. It has allowed us to live the lifestyle that we enjoy. Even the poor in our nation have it better than those below the poverty line in other countries. Capitalism and the pursuit of happiness work in tandem. Each of us are free to build a better mousetrap or we may choose to work for someone else. If we are unhappy with our lot in life, we can pursue other interests or directions. The only thing holding Americans back is ourselves. The discourse in our country would suggest that there is a limited amount of pie; and if your greedy neighbor takes too much, there won’t be enough for you. Friends, the pie is unlimited. Dig in!
Our country is not without its faults, and we have had some pretty dark days in our past. As Americans though, we have tried to work past the wrongs and learn from our mistakes.
Memorial Day offers many of us a three day weekend. It marks the unofficial start of summer break for our children and is often the opening day for swimming pools. It is the perfect excuse for a backyard barbeque, a mini vacation, or a chance to just relax. It is also a great excuse to thank a veteran, display your flag, and visit a cemetery like the national cemetery in Andersonville. It is an impressive sight to see over 25,000 graves decorated with American flags, and it puts the real meaning of Memorial Day in perspective. This Memorial Day, between the picnics and fun, take time to reflect on the meaning of the day, and pass that meaning along to your children.
Written by Bill Waller. Mr. Waller is a author and contributor local blog, Southwest Georgia Politics. He enjoys writing, traveling, and researching history. He currently resides in Albany, Georgia.