Flag still flies, but for how long?

June 10, 2018

The victory at Midway was already a year in the mirror, D-Day still a year away. Marines were just beginning their long slog to Tokyo and the Army Air Corps Eight Air Force was entering its bloodiest period yet over the skies of Europe.

June, 1943 was anything but the beginning of the lazy, hazy days of summer. America and what was left of western civilization was in the fight of her life. On one side Hitler and all the evil that Nazism brought with it, on the other the barbarism of the Imperial forces of the Empire of Japan.

As schools let out for the summer that year there were already far too many kids going home to fatherless homes. Everyone in every neighborhood knew the dread of seeing the Western Union man walking up to the front door.

Sandlot baseball was replaced by scrap drives and victory gardens. Everything from meat and cheese, to the morning coffee, to the clothes on your back to the shoes on your feet was being rationed. A double hit for a generation that had seen itself crawl out of the depths of the Great Depression only to be thrown into the cauldron of the worst conflagration in human history.

Mothers, daughters, aunts and sisters were answering the call in factories all across the nation. Without them the boys at the front would have been throwing sticks and stones instead of hurling grenades and giving the enemy showers of lead.

Needless to say, the flag that furled from porches from sea to shining sea on June 14th, 1943 had quite a different meaning to Americans of that day than to the “huh, what?” screen obsessed denizens of today.

It was not a perfect flag that flew that day. American armed forces were still segregated and Japanese Americans were serving out the war in forced internment camps. And while women were more than carrying their weight in the workforce of the day, it would take decades post war for society to embrace them as equals in the workforce.

Born in the time of slavery and stained by the Trail of Tears her first step to redemption started as brother to brother, father to son as America squared off in civil war to rid itself of the scourge of slavery.

She flew at Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Belleau Wood, Bastogne and Iwo Jima, Inchon and Heartbreak Ridge, la Drang and Khe Sanh and from the Twin Towers to Baghdad and Fallujah to Kabul and Kandahar.

She was there in Daily Plaza, on a balcony in Memphis and at the Ambassador Hotel as a decade of violence nearly tore her asunder.

She’s tattered and torn for a reason. She’s been bloodied in battle both foreign and domestic.

She may not be pure as the driven snow, yet she’s the best this world’s got.

She represents a nation that though not perfect, is still the nation that has done more good in less years than any other nation in the history of civilization.

And for all her faults she still represents everything that tyrants and despots hate: freedom and liberty. Government of the people over power of the state.

A flag that flies over a people unafraid to speak against themselves, their government and their darkest secrets.

Three quarters of a century past she flew over a nation fighting for its very survival.

Today she flies over a collection of tribes demanding this, shouting for that. Each blind to just how ridiculous they look compared to the history on which they stand.

The patriotism that inspired BJ Cigrand, a public school teacher in Wisconsin in 1885 to have his students celebrate the 108th birthday of the Stars and Stripes has sadly disappeared from many of our schools today.

And to far too many adults, June 14th is just another day on the calendar.

On any given day these days, there’s a misguided miscreant proudly declaring the injustice of this, the unfairness of that. Said miscreant oblivious to the hundreds of thousands of men and women in uniform that are paying the price to keep freedom free.

It can be argued that as a nation we are as divided today as in the time leading up to the Civil War. The hard left on the coasts and large cities, the rest of the country in between.

Open borders, sanctuary cities, one set of laws for the powerful, another for the rest of us, there are ideological forces driving wedges between us.

Unless we find a way to restore some respect for our history and traditions and the flag that represents it, I’m afraid those wedges will too soon be chasms impassable.

And that, would be the greatest injustice of all.

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