On my way home from work my commute takes me past a hill upon which the American flag has flown since shortly after 9/11.
The first time I saw the flag there, I felt it spoke to deep and heartfelt commitment to freedom, liberty, courage and justice. Our nation was reeling in shock, anger and grief over the devastation of 9/11. Life in the United States would from that day forward, be reframed by those horrific images of terrorism. Safety within our borders would never again be taken for granted.
This week as I drove by I was again struck by the quiet presence and inspiration of the flag. The flag had been flying there all day in the hot summer sun.
Who protects it from harsh elements and shields it from harm? What must be done to enable it to withstand foul weather? What is it made of that gives it such resilience? The noble values that our flag stands for must endure hardship too. Humanity can produce abject failure in its efforts to survive. Gross missteps sometimes linger on for generations. Fear and ignorance often produce disturbing and painful history.
There are rules that govern the proper display of the flag. There is such a thing as “Flag Etiquette.” Displaying what the flag represents is also a kind of etiquette that can become a part of who we are as a country.
Honor. Respect. Duty to community and service to country. Justice. Liberty, Peace and compassion. And, dare I add, Love. The symbols we hold dear are best displayed in the actions that we exhibit towards those around us.