The Flag of the United States of America is flying at half-mast today as it has been since the Mandalay Bay massacre in Las Vegas. It signifies a nation in mourning over the senseless and brutal deaths of the innocent. We are a nation in mourning. Yet there are people who neither will allow mourning, nor respect it. Promoting their own self-indulgent causes must continue no matter the cause of decency. They have only their own honor, an example of what Judges 17:6 describes as “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” When I look at that flag at half-mast, and the lack of respect certain people have for it and the country, it reminds me of the sacrifices true patriots have made for freedom.
I’ve been involved in a lot of conversations lately about the flag. Many, in fact, most, say that people should be forced to stand for the playing of the National Anthem and the presentation of the flag. To me, true freedom is not about forcing someone to recognize it. It is about the individual embracing it in their hearts—where the American ideal resides. They should have enough good sense to stand even if it is just out of respect for those who gave their blood, sweat and tears that others might have the freedom to protest societal wrongs. Forcing someone to stand during the National Anthem and presentation of the flag may have better optics, but is it truly representative of liberty? Let me give another thought.
Some years ago, my wife and I along with some very brave parents started a Christian home school co-op. We taught all the grades and had about 15 students ranging from first grade to high school. Each morning, we started the school with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. When I would ask who would like to lead the Pledge, it was like pulling teeth. They didn’t have any problem praying, but holding that flag and leading the Pledge was a different story. I talked it over with others who said just to mandate it and force them to do it. But that didn’t set well with me. So I started telling true stories about the flag, the heroic efforts of those who carried it into battle, and what it meant to people. The attitudes changed and soon all the students, younger and older, were asking if they could hold the flag and lead the Pledge.
My family has been in this land since the Mayflower. I know how hard it was for those who came before me to settle in a wilderness and carve out a farm, a community, a state, a country. I respect that and honor them for it. We never owned slaves. We were part of the abolitionist movement. We treated people fairly and tried to do what was right. Our heritage speaks to it, like so many Americans. I will stand for the flag and the National Anthem because I know what’s behind it. It’s important for our children to understand the “why” and the “what” that they may respect and cherish freedom AND know when it is appropriate to defend it, and when it is appropriate and responsible to stand against tyranny.