By Simon Ambit
The color guard was called to attention and made a silent march forward. As they did so, the audience arose from their chairs, the men in the room removed cover and hands were placed over hearts in honor. The Pledge of Allegiance was said and the colors of our great country were posted at the head of the room.
At this point, instruction was given about the importance, symbolism and the sacrifice tied to the American Flag. All of the young cub scouts in the room were then invited to come to the front and learn to properly fold and care for the American Flag.
Each set of scouts seemed to stand a little taller and they were reverently quiet as stripes were folded inward and then atop themselves again to reveal the bold white stars of the states amid the vigilant blue band. Each young boy took a turn respectfully folding the flag in the triangle pattern corner to corner while being reminded to keep the flag tight and the folds crisp.
It was a simple little meeting and instruction session, but there permeated among the boys a sense of pride and honor for the flag and the history of our great nation that simply did not exist prior to the event. As I noticed the change in the young boys and how they viewed the flag differently after the training, I couldn’t help but think of the poem “Ragged Old Flag” by Johnny Cash.
If you’ve not heard it recently, you need to listen to it. Here are a couple of excerpts of the lyrics:
I walked through a county courthouse square
On a park bench an old man was sitting there…
I said, your old flagpole has leaned a little bit
And that’s a ragged old flag you got hanging on it
He said, have a seat, and I sat down
Is this the first time you’ve been to our little town?
He said, I don’t like to brag
But we’re kinda proud of that ragged old flag…
After telling many stories of the history of the flag, the poem concludes with…
And she’s getting threadbare and wearing thin
But she’s in good shape for the shape she’s in
‘Cause she’s been through the fire before
And I believe she can take a whole lot more
So we raise her up every morning
We take her down every night
We don’t let her touch the ground and we fold her up right
On second thought, I do like to brag
‘Cause I’m mighty proud of that ragged old flag.
During this week of horseshoe tournaments, chili cook-offs, snow cones, parades, rodeos and fireworks, we ought to take some time to remind the kids what it is we celebrate this week during the 4th of July. Life in America is great; let them know how it got that way and how it has for so long remained.