Growing up in Rural East Texas during World War II and the ten or so years following The Stars and Stipes had a much stronger meaning to folks than it seems to today.
In those years the flag was never left out after dark, never allowed to touch the ground, folded properly and put away each evening.
I was chosen to tend the flag my senior year in high school. I don’t know what the criteria were to be allowed to do this job but it was an honor without question.
Each morning the entire school, from the first grade to the twelfth stood by their desk and recited the Lords Prayer. Immediately following the prayer as Charles Melde played “To The Colors”in the school foyer I raised the flag while the student body recited the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag including the phrase,”under God”.
Each evening after classes or at the first hint of rain the flag was lowered and folded properly. Lowering the colors required and assistant to prevent the flag from touching the ground. The two of us folded the flag three cornered and stowed it in it’s assigned place in the principal’s office.
In the year I was allowed the honor I never had to ask for help. I had to keep a list younger boys who would ask each day to assist with the flag.
Teachers happily released these boys at my request and no day began or ended without the “Lords Prayer” and the “Flag Ceremony”.
Today as I have exceeded three score and ten years it pains my heart to see huge flags over court houses and car lots left aloft in the night or to hang limp in the rain.
Much has changed in the fifty plus years since I was the flag boy at my school. The flag no longer makes folks stand straighter and their chest to swell as it once did.
Even after the catastrophes of more recent times we have not rallied around the flag as Americans have done so many times in these past two hundred plus years.
Some say the Flag is only a symbol or a nice piece of needle work but that isn’t so. Our Flag is much more than that it embodies the spirit of our people. It represents, not only those who fought and died for it but also those who toiled to build this country, to educate its people, farmed its land and tame its natural resources.
The Flag is all things American and I pray it will once again mean as much to as many as it has in the past.