Sorry, Protocol, It’s Not Coming Down

We fly our flag every day. It’s simply become part of the house. And it doesn’t matter if it’s raining or snowing or if the winds are approaching hurricane levels.

I know that bothers some. Official protocol dictates that flags should not be exposed to the elements. My father is one of those people. He and my mom visit a couple times a month and if it is raining or snowing like it has been the last few times they were here, my dad will take down our flag and place it on our porch. I don’t mind. He’s my father and a veteran. He’s earned the right.

As soon as he leaves, though, it goes right back up.

If you know the story behind the national anthem, then you know that the flag is an enduring symbol of freedom. It is a tale of endurance and perseverance as Francis Scott Key watched the flag still flying over Fort McHenry after relentless bombing from the British. I’ve never seen it as a fragile piece of cloth.

When I see the flag being soaked by the rain I am reminded of those Marines slogging through the swamps of Vietnam or enduring the extended campaigns on Guadalcanal. When I see it and its pole coated with snow, I am reminded of Washington’s infantryman enduring the bitter cold and its effects at Valley Forge. At night, I think of the Navy’s midshipmen isolated and staring into the blackness of an open sea as orange tracers from enemy airplanes cut through the black sky. And when the sky is cloudless and perfectly blue, I see an airman flying vulnerable over enemy territory not knowing if he will meet his fate by fire from an enemy plane or from a surface-to-air missle, yet he flies into enemy territory anyway.

Should the winds lift my flag from its holder and toss it to the ground, I will not cease using it. I will not bury or burn it or dispose of it in any way. I will pick it up and place it back in its holder where it belongs.

Speaking of burning, I don’t think the flag needs a freedom-restricting law against burning it. The uneducated, unappreciative, stupid, arrogant and ungrateful in our society need to be exposed for what they are. There’s no better way for them to self-identify as to set fire to the flag.

The flag can take it just like the millions who fought to defend it, us, and freedom itself. As Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa said, “It ain’t about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

So, with apologies to those who adhere to flag care and protection protocol, if you’re driving out my way and pass my house, you will always see our flag being displayed…unless it’s raining and my dad is here.


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