Red glare

On my last trip to Washington, D.C., we visited one of the Smithsonian museums and walked through the display for the original “Star Spangled Banner” flag.

Patriotism has always been an odd subject for me. On one hand, I’m proud and aware of the fact that we enjoy ridiculous amounts of freedom that other countries don’t share. During my time in Northern Laos, I was quickly shushed after asking our cab driver what the government was like….in the center of a country road in the middle of mountains. Freedom is so easy to forget. On the other (ugly) hand, there’s a part of me that feels as if the values we originally founded this nation on have been drastically forgotten. However, as much as we can point fingers in either way, the bottom line is this: I’m proud to be an American.

Listening to the sounds of the national anthem, one often repeats them over and over again without thought for what the words mean. At the exhibit,  they displayed pieces of bomb shell fragments and encouraged visitors to touch them. Feeling the wrist-thick piece of shrapnel, I closed my eyes and tried to place myself in the position of being heavily shelled by these explosive weapons of destruction. Moving down the row, they displayed a metal rocket against the wall. They were meant for death and destruction. Nothing more.

As you turn the corner, you see the flag hanging against the wall. And there is a part of you that feels as if you’ve been reconnected to a long-lost friend that has been through a very long journey. Your eyes are drawn to the holes and tears in the flag.

…the flag was still there.

During my morning walk with Buddy, I stopped to pause at the raised American flag Pat, our property manager, had erected on his porch. It brought a tear to my eye as I replayed the lyrics to the song.

It’s really hard for me to celebrate the 4th of July with hot dogs and beer, because that’s not the original reason for the holiday. However, those light-hearted liberties are something that I’ve grown to treasure and enjoy. And great gatherings of people and family are more a celebration of love and family than kosher franks. I believe the concept of freedom (and the pursuit of it) is a sacred subject that is better served with thought and contemplation while celebrating the holiday with others.

Today as I step on board a plane to visit Lady Liberty before trotting to the other side of the country to embark on the next journey of my life, I’m filled with gratitude, appreciation, and a fresh perspective forward.


Featured Image From Deviantart

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