Wednesday, April 4, 2007

twilight’s last gleaming


"Three Yale University students, one a U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, were arrested on charges of setting fire to an American flag hanging outside a home.Said Hyder Akbar, 23, Nikolaos Angelopoulos, 19, and Farhad Anklesaria, also 19, were arrested early Tuesday on charges ranging from reckless endangerment to arson, police said."

I'm not an overly emotional guy, in the sense of crying. So when yesterday I read that three guys from Yale University had been arrested for burning the flag one might immediately think I was mad, which is true, but really more so I was heart broken. Truly sincerely heart broken, that kind of pain you feel when you miss someone you love or when a tragedy hits that had nothing to do with you and yours but it leaves you marked with sadness. I fully realize that it's not a big deal to the media or sadly enough to the American Idol viewing public and in a few days we'll hear no more about it. I could go on a tirade about how I firmly believe that if you burn the flag and someone assaults you for it, that it is also freedom of expression. Or that by burning the flag I believe you renounce your American Citizenship and should be deported. But I've decided to go another way instead. I came across something from my old Boy Scout Manual about the flag, it reads:

The National Flag represents the living country and is considered to be a living thing emblematic of the respect and pride we have for our nation. Our flag is a precious possession. Display it proudly. There are certain fundamental rules of Heraldy which if understood, generally indicate the proper method of displaying the flag. The right arm, which is the sword arm and the point of danger, is the place of honor. Hence, the union of the flag is the place of honor or the honor point. The National Emblem is a symbol of our great country, our heritage and our place in the world. We owe reverence and respect to our flag. It represents the highest ideals of individual liberty, justice and opportunity for all.

The longest undisputed and undefended border between two countries in the world is between The United States of America and Canada. You will find no heavily armed military service personal sitting atop tanks and humvee's on either side waiting for one to make a move. What you will find is Old Glory flying next to the Maple Leaf. You will also find her flying atop of institutions of learning, or in the halls of justice, but you will also find her often enough welcoming home the average man or woman from work or the child from school as it is sometimes found firmly anchored to the front porch. She's been to the moon and draped over our dead, she represents not the government but her people.

In 1831 a sea captain named William Driver was given a beautiful flag as a birthday present by family and friends where he quickly named her "Old Glory". She flew at sea for the next six years until he retired from life on the water, and took "Old Glory" with him to Nashville, Tennessee. On days of Patriotism he flew the flag loud and proud, but when the South seceded in 1861 Driver was afraid she would be confiscated by confederate troops so he hid the flag having sewn it inside of a comforter. On February 25, 1862 the Union army reclaimed Nashville and Driver removed her from her hiding place and went to the state capital and hoisted up the flagpole where he remained all night keeping watch armed and prepared to defend her and see that she came to no harm. Shortly before his death in 1886 he gave the flag to his daughter to keep. It would travel with her to Nevada and California where it was displayed from time to time. Then in the early 1900s the flag was badly deteriorating so she had it sewn to a bed sheet in order to stabilize it. It remained a family heirloom until 1922 when it was sent to the Smithsonian Institute and carefully preserved. It and the flag which flew over Fort McHenry during the British bombardment of 1814, inspiring Francis Scott Key to write the The Star-Spangled Banner to the tune of a British drinking song "To Anacreon in Heaven". Both of the flags are considered the two most historically significant in the country and two of the greatest treasures of the Smithsonian.

All of this begs the questions. What is gained by setting her on fire? Who sides with you? Whose hearts do you really win and do you really want them? If this is being progressive you can keep it, you're no friend of mine and I wouldn't care to have you sit at my table and break bread with my family. All my words are wasted though as Key said it best when he penned:

O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

1 comment:

Vesh said...

i thought the ivy league was suppossed to be our best and brightest. Their new motto must be "the meek minded and easily brainwashed." I say we burn them in a public display... ok, maybe just beat them with hoses for a couple of days...