Author: Richard Carter
This piece of forgotten memorial flotsam has a lot in common with our country right now; they’ve both taken a beating and been at least in some indirect fashion disregarded and disrespected.
It’s only a flag you say, a piece of material that holds more sentimental value to some than to others. Yeah, but didn’t it and our country at one time represent so much more? One huge, early variation hung over a fortress in the early struggle for our independence. It was not just in place as a label , a symbol for the army fighting beneath it, but was there, still in place, at the end of that battle, to represent our survival.
It, like good old Uncle Sam (another symbol) was not only visual representations of our country, but links to our deep reserve of pride. Emotional ly stirring Uncle Sam’s poster s and the flag spoke to young men in a way that no leader alone could.
Do times ever, should they ever have the power to change some things? Do changing times make the sacrifice of our ancestors, our parents and grandparents and children any different any less important for the following decades and generations? Should the emblems representative of our patriotism ever fall under the label of needless veneer? Should any elevated group or one individual have the right or power to alter an icon that is the property of a whole people, a people whose family lines have marched and bled beneath it, back to the beginning the establishment of our union?
There has been disrespect and even talk of changing the content of the Flag, and this way of thinking, I’m sure, comes from a desire to move forward. It is the thought that change in all areas is necessary for healthy growth. But, should EVERYTHING be subject to the whims of the present? Are there no lines we will draw as to what is adaptable and what must be established in stone, not out of obstinance but integrity?
Everything changes, though, you say. We change, our icons change, and Superman’s costume has even been altered to fit our grimmer time with the addition of black. Political systems, even religions, change policy and update to fit the times. Why shouldn’t the no longer needed symbols of our countries past be changed as well to fit our time, to fit everyone concerned?
Maybe it is because the identification of a people, the ethic, the ideals of a people are not a thing of passing fashion, but in a sense an issue of honor. All of us are mortal. The leader in office is a very temporary, changing entity in our lives; the faces in the house and senate, though more long seated, are still limited to a mortal length of existence, but a country of our size, can’t have a shifting, changing identity.
The identity of a country should be something that is the legacy and responsibility to each succeeding generation. This is not only a requirement to serve in defense of its physical borders and its citizens, but to defend, as we do, the honor of our parents and all the things that are larger than us, that will or at least should continue after us. We are not the creators of those symbols, but the protectors, the caretakers of them.
It’s the same torch held by the men that died of bullets and mustard gas in the barb wire of World War I. It’s the same torch held by those who live with the effects of Agent Orange, contracted in Vietnam, and it’s the same torch held by those young men coming home, and still leaving to settle our debates throughout the world.
Times change but little of what mankind faces does. It is oppression. It is tyranny disguised in benevolent guise and a thousand other poisons of the mind and maybe the spirit that makes nobler aspirations, not just useful, but essential in a world swiftly fading to black, becoming lost in the shadows.
We have to remember that it is and always should be our right to throw aside individually our ethics, and values, but it is just as important that we do remember that choosing this lesser path in no way means others have. It is not a license to drag down the rest that are hanging on to an almost etheric hope, for something better, hoping for an awakening from this bad dream that has made all the things that once made us wealthy , secure, respected by the world, and blessed by God , no longer relevant, but outdated things of the past. It has also made a joke of our respect for the millions upon millions that have offered us this chance.
Men and women are creatures of the flesh and the failings of our basic humanity go without saying. There will always be the falling’s of some among the many, previously unrecognized threats revealed. There will be murder and worse crimes committed BY individuals at all levels of our society. They are among the unpredictable, the inescapable. But, what if, holding that knowledge in one hand we try not to forget that other hand, and what might be held there as well, what could serve as a balancing force of light in our darkening world.
At the present there seems no thinking capable of freeing the world of the shadow of aggression. We do live in a more complicated world than our ancestors, but does that mean the basic principles that made us the most powerful nation on earth are now incapable of healing us and making us whole?
Maybe we should TRY returning to these answers, tested, and proven, over not only one generation or two, but the majority of our history as a country.
Maybe we should make it a high priority to not only delve with a wary eye into the problems in the worlds back yard, but, finally in our fractured confusion, , really address the issues in our own .
The world watches us with a wary eye as well. If we can step forward with visible proof of internal change for the better, of problem solving accomplishment within our own borders, it will be a positive and guiding sign to the world that our country is not in decline, that the Americans of the present have awakened to reclaim our legacy.
Maybe then the world and our people will see this flag not just as a remnant of a worn out country ,but instead as the force for good in the world we were meant to be.