As I raised my flag today in the half-light of the morning that is 4:15, I glanced up at the sliver moon and the sky which was still scattered with stars and as always on this day, I was thankful. And my gratitude, as always, was overshadowed by the sense of sad remembrance that others had died for my freedom.
All through our history the flag is tinged with blood and it’s something I don’t take lightly.
Others have paid. Most recently, it was 19 young men who probably never thought they would give their lives for the sake of keeping a town and its people safe that day. But they knew they might. They might have thought it was just another work day. And every day people do this…..our military, our police, our firefighters, and everyday they don’t get recognized enough.
As I drove to work I listened to a John Philip Sousa medley and I sang the Star Spangled Banner at the top of my lungs. It wasn’t easy because it was stuck in with other songs and it was fast. But my heart was there. As I sang, I remembered learning every single patriotic song under the direction of Mrs. Evans, my first grade teacher. We put on a concert where we sang them all…..out of tune and loudly. And the parents loved it.
I think one of my favorites was “You’re a grand old flag.” I wonder how many kids today even know it? I remember Cindy Yeaman singing in my ear. Her mother must have told her to sing loud so she could hear her, boy did she.
Thank you Mrs. Evans, for I think of you every patriotic holiday that comes around.
Even though I have to work today and have worked many Independence Days over the years, it will never be just like any other day. I may do the same tasks, go through the same motions, but my heart rejoices in the freedom others paid for.
More than anything else, I remember the greater freedom bought with Holy blood on a cross. A God who loved so much that He gave until it hurt. And while soldiers, police officers, firefighters and others in public service continue to give all to save some, and that is what we remember today; God came so that He could save all.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
That’s the greater freedom I will celebrate.
And as I do, I will snatch quiet moments to pray for the families of those 19 men who died, and our soldiers still fighting many different kinds of battles, some of which start after they come back home.
Tonight, as I roll in the driveway full of the thankfulness of being home, of having a home, I will pray for the ones who just lost theirs, and much more. As I get ready to celebrate by eating special food and watching fireworks from the high school light up the sky, I will also think about how I was bought with a price by a God who loves me.
And give thanks again.
Because even though I had to work, it wasn’t just an ordinary day.
And really, what day is?
Photo credit: AP/Julie Jacobson, 19 red roses honoring the fallen firefighters