It's Time to Stand and Salute
March 8, 2012
Old Glory has survived much. But, despite destruction, derision and distrust by those who would make it less, it waves on as a blessed symbol of who we are, what we stand for, and what we pray always to be.
Let’s “rev up” excitement about the USA. Maybe rally around flagpoles. Or try to match the glee of the folks who get the bid to make those giant flags for big automobile dealerships. You know—the ones that wave across two Zip codes.
It’s a worthy goal.
Patriotism was stronger in bygone years. Flags were flown more often, and on Veterans’ Day, buddy poppies adorned lapels across the land. I have wispy childhood memories of those poppies.
My folks always had coins to “buy” poppies. I understood later that the colorful symbols had no price tags, but were reminders of prices paid by military veterans—some of whom gave all, all of whom gave some.
Today’s news of our flag is befuddling. A few days ago, a Rockwall County Commissioner unilaterally ordered the courthouse U.S. flagpole shortened by five feet to match two others that stand thirty-five feet tall. Other county officials were shocked.
There must have been many red faces and furrowed brows as the county leaders, gathered ‘round the conference table, reached varying states of hoarseness.
People are hurting, children are hungry and thousands of citizens face too much “month left at the end of the money.” Meanwhile, commissioners fiddle with tape measures as flames fueled by critical human needs engulf. Quicker than advertisers leaving Limbaugh, the Texas Rangers have been called in to sort things out.
To be sure, flag etiquette is important. It’s a big part of a renewed spirit of patriotism for which we yearn.
There are guidelines for display of the American flag, differing somewhat for public and private property.
During my presidency at Howard Payne University, we lowered campus flags to half- mast for twenty-four hours, beginning at twelve noon each July 3. This was done to honor the late Dr. Guy D. Newman, who served as president for seventeen years. He died on July 4, 1988. It was our flag and our right to do so without governmental authority or decree.
The recent death of Marshall Lynam, administrative assistant – then Chief of Staff – during Jim Wright’s twenty-seven years in Congress, comes to mind. Lynam’s remarkable autobiography, Stories I Never Told the Speaker, was penned in 1998.
A former newspaperman, he was Wright’s “go to” guy. Insightful and borderline unbelievable in spots, the book is hilarious. It informs and entertains, earning an “A+” for both.
One of his frequent chores was to send out U.S. flags that had flown over the capitol. With members of Congress distributing so many flags, the guy hoisting them for brief moments could easily have gotten rope burns from his up-and-down routine.
Marshall’s late father, Lee Lynam, was a World War I vet, gassed and left for dead on a battlefield in France. Bankrupted during the Depression and employed in the oil fields during years well past his prime, he had unshakable pride of country.
On his dad’s birthday, Marshall sent him a flag that had flown over the capitol. It was a prized possession– imposing enough for an army fort–atop a flagpole in front of his modest Bishop, TX, home.
On holidays, Mr. Lynam stood alone in the dewy grass, waiting for the sunrise. Upon first rays, he’d raise the flag, then hobble back a few steps and offer a crisp salute. On one of his last birthdays, he limped on his game leg to the breakfast table, his hand clutching the flag.
“Where are you going with the flag?” asked his wife. “Going to put it up,” he said.
She pointed out that colors are posted on national holidays, not birthdays. He grunted. “What would you say,” she asked, “if I put up the flag on my birthday?”
Mr. Lynam thought for a minute. “It’s not your flag,” he said, shuffling out toward his flagpole, which, at twenty-five feet, seemed about the right height. I cheer for his “red, white and blue.” Don’t we all?
Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Contact: email@example.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.