Sunday, July 4, 2010

I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America

The other day we were driving in Quincy near John Quincy Adam’s house. The streets were lined with American flags in anticipation of today, the 4th of July. Each lamp post had one. The wind was whipping that day and when we stopped at a red light, one of the flags plummeted to the gutter.

We were pressed for time but Paul pulled over in the dense traffic to pick it up out of the street. He didn’t lay it on the sidewalk or place it on the electrical box nearby which was perhaps the easier thing to do; he wrapped it carefully around its pole and jammed the pole in the ground so it would stand, leaning it against the box. A passerby offered to take it to the bus station but it was fine where we left it, standing. We didn’t get to our appointment on time but I can’t think of a finer reason to be late.

There were people stuck at the lights watching us and I happened to notice some were from another country. I wondered what they were thinking as they stared us but I shudder wondering what they may have thought if we’d passed it by. It was inconvenient to stop but we considered it more inconvenient not to.

When I was a child we pledged allegiance to the flag every morning before school. We hung up our coats and hats and quickly hushed while the principal turned on the PA system. We each placed our hands over our hearts and said the pledge of allegiance facing the American flag that stood next to our teacher’s desk. Not one child failed to do so. It was a social embarrassment if we didn’t, this was, after all, the land we lived in by our parent’s choice. The words sunk into our hearts, this land is blessed by God. As children we realized the flag means something, we are a nation under God, there is liberty here, and justice…our lives became larger than just our own families and we felt a responsibility to carry on in like manner.
When I was a teen I was invited to participate in the Color Guard for the town of Wakefield, RI. I considered it a great honor and practiced marching once a week at the library making sure I was available regardless of my summer plans or school activities. I carried the RI flag in parades all summer long. I wore a navy skirt with a white blouse and a navy hat and white gloves. Those of us in the Color Guard were told it wasn’t an option to drop the flag, unless, of course, we were fainting and in that case we were instructed, not to help, but, to keep the flag off the ground so that it wouldn’t get trampled. Our instructor watched over the fallen.

Of course there are some people who live here who do not understand this and will wonder why it matters, it’s just a piece of colored fabric but it’s the significance. The flag is our standard of faith for our country, our symbol of freedom. If the flag is flying we are a free nation. If the flag falls, we give our lives to save it and our country. God watches over our fallen. I cannot fathom children not learning patriotism. I suppose if I lived in a country I disagreed with, I certainly wouldn’t pledge but then I’d move. Why stay in a land you don’t agree with? No one is forced to live here because it’s America.

Today, I had an overwhelming urge to get some coffee while picking up burgers for the grill. I ran to a local Dunkin Donuts and a man yelled to me about my hat, he wanted to know if I could see anything with it on. I laughed and told him sometimes, and then he laughed. He said he hasn’t seen a hat like mine since the rice patties in Vietnam, to which I asked if he’s a Vet and he replied “Yes, ma’am.” I said, “Thank you for serving.” His jaw dropped open and easily twenty years fell away from his face as he relaxed and his blue eyes shined. He wanted to know where I’m from. He said not many people around here thank him for serving.

So let this Bostonian now say that if you’re a relative of John Quincy Adams, any of our founding fathers, or a member of our Armed Forces or a relative to one, thank you for serving. Thank you for standing up for American ideals that allow non-Americans to flourish here as well. Thank you for guarding my freedom and my children’s freedom with your lives. Thank you for teaching us by your stand that this 4th of July day is so important that you’d risk everything for it. I hear you.

Others went to the beaches and the cook-outs and lined the streets to eat their popcorn as we walked by, but this little girl was more than happy to put on her gloves and sweat in the summer sun for the opportunity to carry the standards of freedom and hope, and I still am.

To every citizen of this great country, thank you for not dropping the Flag.
Happy Birthday, America.

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation, under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

Let Freedom Ring.

Photo credits:


  1. Thank you for serving, Daddy, Grandpa, Grand Daddy, Uncle Ed, Aunt Ruth, Uncle Paul, Cousin Glenn, Uncle Joe, Uncle John, Brother John,and the many others in our family. I am so proud of you all.

    Karen (daughter, grand daughter, sister in law, cousin)

  2. GREAT blog post! Thank you to all those who serve in the military.


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