Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Our Flag: Something to Honor, and Remind us of our Blessings as Americans

I’ve always been fond of Johnny Cash. He’s a great singer, and while he might be best known for songs like “One Piece at a Time” or “Ring of Fire,” this is one my favorites. If you haven’t heard it, the lyrics are worth putting on your refrigerator or desk, as a little reminder of how lucky we are to live in America.

Sometimes people love to bash America. But think for a moment the sacrifice made by our Founding Fathers, signing the Declaration and becoming instant criminals. Think about the sacrifice made by soldiers from the Battles of Lexington and Concord to Shiloh to the Bulge. And then, think about how because of that, how we are free to worship freely and talk openly about our faith, to speak our mind, and express our opinions.

Our flag in a special way represents that, which is why we show it respect. I’m always moved at the funeral of a veteran when the Legion Honor Guard is present, and the folded flag is handed to the family of the veteran.

It can be so easy to take our freedom and our wonderful country for granted. So the next time you see the flag, especially this Wednesday as our nation marks Flag Day on June 14th, think of how lucky we are to live in this great country. I think these words from the Man in Black express that so very well about an old man on a park bench who opened a visitor’s eyes to what our flag means:

RAGGED OLD FLAG

I walked through a county courthouse square,

On a park bench an old man was sitting there.

I said, “Your old courthouse is kinda run down.”

He said, “Naw, it’ll do for our little town.”

I said, “Your 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?”

I said, “I think it is.” He said, “I don’t like to brag,

But we’re kinda proud of that Ragged Old Flag.”

“You see, we got a little hole in that flag there

When Washington took it across the Delaware.

And it got powder-burned the night Francis Scott Key

Sat watching it writing  “Oh Say Can You See:.

And it got a bad rip in New Orleans

With Packingham and Jackson tuggin’ at its seams.”

“And it almost fell at the Alamo

Beside the Texas flag, but she waved on through.

She got cut with a sword at Chancellorsville

And she got cut again at Shiloh Hill.

There was Robert E. Lee, Beauregard, and Bragg,

And the south wind blew hard on that Ragged Old Flag.”

“On Flanders Field in World War I

She got a big hole from a Bertha gun.

She turned blood red in World War II

She hung limp and low by the time it was through.

She was in Korea and Vietnam.

She went where she was sent by her Uncle Sam.”

“She waved from our ships upon the briny foam,

And now they’ve about quit waving her back here at home.

In her own good land she’s been abused —

She’s been burned, dishonored, denied and refused.”

“And the government for which she stands

Is scandalized throughout the land.

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,

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.”

I hope you are proud of our flag as well, and pray for our country and for our troops as well.

Have a blessed week!
Fr. Paul