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Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Red, White, and Blue

My oldest grandson was at summer camp this week and his brother was home with mom and dad.  They sought to make the week special for him, as well, since he is quite old enough to go to camp.  One of the things he did with his Dad centered around errands his dad needed to run with one of them being to the local larch building materials warehouse.  Now, if this was the oldest grandson, they'd have packed a sandwich, planned on spending the day, and come home awesomely satisfied to have just lingered in the aisles looking at this and that!  Unfortunately, my youngest grandson doesn't quite enjoy those trips quite as well.  In fact, he teared up and said he really didn't want to go! I had stopped by to pick up something from my daughter's house, so I actually got to hand my grandson a couple of handfuls of change which had been collecting in the little drawer on the dashboard of the car.  I hoped he might find a little something he wanted at the store and would come home with a project to work on or something to add to his room.  When my daughter told me what he got with his money, it made my heart swell.  His purchase?  A small American flag which he came right home and promptly planted in the large planter by the front door!  With the remaining 27 cents, he "purchased" (with a little help from daddy, I am sure) three drinks from the local corner store and proudly announced to his mom he had a cool drink of her favorite soda which he had bought "with his own money" just for the three of them!

Goodness makes a nation great, but sin is a shame to any people. (Proverbs 14:34 ERV)

As I contemplated that purchase by my grandson, I kind of wondered what drew him to buy a flag.  Perhaps it is because I have had one planted in the front bed of my garden for years and years now, changing it out faithfully when it fades from the bright Arizona sun.  I don't have it there as decoration, but as a reminder of what it stands for - something I'd like to share with you on this Fourth of July, 2015.  

In 1782, five years after the original red, white, and blue American flag was adopted by the Continental Congress, the Seal of the United States of America was also introduced to the Continental Congress.  The founding fathers wanted a seal which would reflect their values and beliefs - the very thing they hoped would remind their countrymen for generations to come of the significance of the forming of this great "union" of states.  During the ceremony dedicating the Seal, Charles Thompson, the Secretary of the Continental Congress began to reveal the meaning of the choices of red, white, and blue within the stars, stripes, and background of our flag and the U.S. Seal.  The original flag bore thirteen stripes and thirteen stars, each representing the original 13 states of the "United States" and the forming of a "new constellation" of stars representing this new "union" of states.  But why red, white and blue?

White was chosen because it represented purity and innocence - two traits our founding fathers believed to be the principles upon which this union was to be created and maintained.  Red because it bespoke of the valor and bravery of men who had sacrificed their lives for the freedom the flag represented.  Blue to represent the vigilance, justice, and perseverance of this nation and its leaders in forming this great union - three characteristics "woven" into every fiber of the flag and bonded together in the Seal of the United States of America.  We don't hear much today of the faith of our founding fathers - making some of the significance of these things seem a little less important or memorable.  For those of us who choose to display this flag as more than a yard ornament on the holidays, we understand perhaps at least some of these, and raise that flag in honor of not only those who gave and continue to give their lives to ensure that freedom, but to honor those principles upon which our country was founded.

I have had the honor to walk among the fallen in Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C.  In those moments of contemplating the thousands and thousands who have given so much for our country and the beliefs upon which it was founded, I can only imagine the gnawing grief of parents, siblings, children, grandparents, and all the relatives of those who lost so much in the sacrifice of each life.  To know these rows upon rows of headstones only represent a fraction of the lives given without reservation to the cause of supporting this country leaves one awe-struck and humbled.  Today, as we celebrate with families, grilling and enjoying a day away from work, or perhaps sitting at the dockside of a still lake lazily casting a hook out into the waters, let us not forget to take a moment to consider both those who have given much, continue to give more, and the principles upon which our founding fathers fashioned this great "union" called the United States of America.  In those moments of pondering, let us not forget to thank them for their sacrifices, remember them in our prayers, and honor them with our support.  Let us not forget the principles of purity and innocence upon which this union was founded.  

My grandson could have bought much with his money, but he bought a flag. It may not mean much to you, but it means everything to me!  Just sayin!