Flag Deserves Better Than Being A Sweat Rag
The recently completed Fall festival was, despite the unusual heat, a tremendously organized event, with applause needing to go to Chamber of Commerce director Doris Povolish for her hours upon hours of hard work and attention to detail. Had the heat not been an issue, the event would more than likely have been a far better attended time.
While the event itself was an organizational success, what spurs this letter is something I viewed while attending to the booth organized by the church I serve. Some middle school youth had purchased some tie-dyed hats (out in California we knew them as “beachcombers”), then also purchased American flags which they were using as a sort of sun shield to keep the sun off the back of their heads.
In concept, the idea has merit; the French Foreign Legion, for example, has a cloth shield on the back of the kepis which the soldiers wear to protect them from desert heat. My issue here is not with the concept but with the use of the American flag as a sweat-preventer.
I am a veteran of the U.S. Army. I served as part of a great military which protected the flag, not because it was a flag, but for all it stood for — our country, the United States of America. The rows upon rows of tombstones in national cemeteries give mute tribute to the men and women who went to war and gave all they had for the defense of this nation — represented by the Stars and Stripes. I admit to getting misty eyed when I see our flag marched by in a parade, perhaps carried by members of the American Legion, veterans themselves, some who saw the horror of combat, some who lost friends in the course of conflict. Admittedly, this nation is not perfect, is beset with many problems, but such does not diminish the greatness that is America.
To use the American flag as a head covering, and not because no other option existed, is a statement of blatant disrespect to the symbol of a nation for which many thousands of our citizens shed their blood on a battlefield somewhere in the world. There is at the present time much disrespect and dishonor being shown to the flag, to this nation, to those symbols and songs which celebrate this country. It seems to be very fashionable to throw a flag on the ground, stand on it, and use one’s First Amendment freedoms to curse the very country offering that freedom. These are perilous times for the cohesion of this nation, as more and more forces seek to destroy the foundations on which this country was built and over the last two centuries grew to become the greatest nation on earth. Somewhere along the line, holding the flag of the United States of America in honor and respect for which it stands was lost on those youth at the Festival.
Perhaps some might say it was nothing more than a childish action, one without any significant harm in the long run. I disagree strongly. To disrespect and dishonor the flag now, with no apparent repercussions, simply sets the stage for even more blatant disregard of not just the flag, but for the fabric of this nation later in life. It is a sign of dismissal of the sacrifices made by millions to ensure the freedoms of which our founders spoke so passionately — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is a sign of apathy towards the very freedoms which we cherish, which millions in repressed societies such as China and North Korea can not even imagine.
I am proud to be an American, and proud to give honor to the flag representing the United States of America. I know it is the practice in the middle school here in Nashville to do a morning broadcast that includes the Pledge of Allegiance. It seems a little incoherent to pledge one’s allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the country for which it stands, when the flag was used as a head covering for the sake of trying to be funny or different or succumbing to peer pressure.
Rev. Scott Osenbaugh