Growing up in the 50s and 60s we started each morning of school with these words: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America…” I have to admit I didn’t understand the gravity of that allegiance at the time. As a child I was not acquainted with “acts of war,” but Vietnam came during my teens and definitely got my attention when my fiancé was drafted out of college.
I trekked from NSC in Tahlequah, Oklahoma to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and got married in a little Army Chapel just eight hours before Carl was to ship out. I walked down the aisle in a borrowed wedding gown and exchanged vows with my handsome husband in dress uniform. We spent eight hours together before his deployment. So yes, those Stars and Stripes meant a lot during our year and half separation.
But here is what I didn’t know about the flag all those years ago. I didn’t know how heavy it was. I learned that when a young soldier placed it in my hands while I sat next to my husband’s coffin. The weight surprised me.
As my tears fell, I quickly understood the reason. That flag holds the tears of thousands of moms, dads, and widows like me. It holds sadness, death, memories, and even love. So many emotions held in the depth of that flag. You may never understand such things until a folded flag is placed in your own hands, but you can honor and respect the symbol of our country.
My son, Jay loved that his daddy was once a soldier and also loved the flag, proudly putting it out on holidays and saluting it in honor of his dad. He also loved Jesus with all of his heart.
Now that Jay has joined his dad in heaven, I put the flag out in honor of my courageous guys and all those serving our country. If everyone were as proud of our flag, our country, and our Lord as Jay was, who displayed dozens of flags and crosses in his room, our world would overflow with kindness and love.