When I was little my grandmother told me that everyone was flying their flags for me. I was honored as only a young boy of six could be. "Pretty cool."
I now know that was not the case, but I still like to tell myself it is so. It is my one, for-sure, feel-good day of the year.
But with my grandmother's little white lie came a ton of responsibility. I took it upon myself to be the flag police. To this day I still get great pride in seeing the flag flown often and properly.
I also get pretty doggoned riled-up if I see Old Glory not being flown the way she is supposed to be or if she is tattered or torn in appearance. For instance, if one is going to fly their flag all night, be sure and put a light on it. If your flag is frayed or torn, buy a new one.
It is the symbol of our great nation, after all.
And, on Memorial Day, the flag should be flown at half-staff until noon and then raised to full extension for the remainder of the day. But all of this can be found in the U.S. Flag Code on-line, or organizations like the American Legion have pamphlets on the matter.
But I guess the real reason this subject come to my mind is that with our nation's military still scattered around the world and many of them engaged in combat in Afghanistan, it strikes me as very important to remain patriotic in their support.
I spent 20 years in the Air Force, 10 of them overseas. When you are living on foreign soil, you begin to fully appreciate what our country has to offer — the many freedoms we oft-times take for granted: freedom such as the right to worship as we desire or to criticize our government; the ability to purchase food and goods on a regular basis or to even travel within and without our borders.
One also begins to appreciate that often lone flag flying on a post that represents the fact that the United States of America is there and on guard. Discounting the base exchange, that flag was the one sure piece of America that was present in my life for the decade I spent serving in foreign lands.
In a time when many of our schools have opted out of teaching our children the “Pledge of Allegiance,” it is vitally important that we as parents and adults gift our youth with the words and meaning behind the words we use to honor our nation's flag.
This is true of prayer, as well. How can we continue to be a nation of "In God we trust" when we neither teach our children to honor our country or pray to the God who has been our protector and provider.
It seems to me that since we have taken these two vitally important events out of our schools, we have seen an uprise in problems with discipline and gang violence. There is a general lack of respect for our country and its leaders at every level.
Is this just a coincidence? I think not. An understanding of God and a love for our country are two things every child should have in their life toolbox. This is important for not only each child but for the continuance of our nation's status as leader of the free world.
Our future generations must have these two understandings or we are doomed as a nation. The three "R's" — reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic — are important, sure, but an appreciation for our nation and God, in my honest opinion, trump those.
Perhaps it is time to rethink our priorities.
Just something to think about. God bless...
Dennis Norwood is a reporter for The Catoosa County News.