For the last several weeks Caroline has walked around the house singing bits and pieces of God Bless the USA by the bearded Lee Greenwood. Then sometime last week I noticed she was humming a few bars of the Air Force theme, Wild Blue Yonder. It all began to make sense when she was sent home with a note explaining that her school was having a special program in honor of Veterans’ Day.
And here I’d thought she was just some kind of musical prodigy with a penchant for patriotic tunes.
So yesterday morning Mimi and Gigi met me at the elementary school. I don’t know what they were expecting, but just seeing that gym full of elementary-aged kids and eager parents elbowing each other out of the way with cameras brought me back to the days of my own star-making role as Narrator #1 in Bammel Elementary’s production of Bambi. Which is to say that my expectations were not very high.
Then the program started and it was the best Veterans’ Day tribute I’ve ever experienced and I say that without a trace of sarcasm and that’s something that rarely happens.
I generally stay away from controversial topics like politics and whether or not I believe the best boots are the ones that zip up the side or pull on, but I don’t think it would take a political science wunderkind (how long have I been waiting to use that word?) to figure out which side of the political spectrum I lean towards. I mean I’m a Texan, my husband owns mass quantities of weaponry, and WE WATCH NASCAR.
As I watched those kids sing their little patriotic hearts out yesterday, I felt a sense of pride and hope for our country that I haven’t felt in a while. I’m not happy about the direction things are going and, honestly, I feel like we’re paying for our apathy.
Later in the day, P called me. He’d just attended a weekly lunchtime Bible study for high school students and was blown away by the guest speaker. It was an 83-year-old woman nicknamed Grandma Hansi. She was orphaned as a child and brainwashed as a Nazi Youth Leader when Hitler’s troops marched in to Czechoslovakia. At the end of the war she found herself in a Communist Labor Camp. The things she suffered are unimaginable to us but the short story is she ultimately became a Christian and came to America in 1955. She talked about the extreme culture shock she felt upon her arrival because she couldn’t even fathom the freedom that Americans take for granted. As she says on her website, “I would rather die than ever be unfree again. I pray that we as the American people will never take freedom for granted or we might lose it. If Freedom is lost, there will be no more refuge left for those who try to find a better way of life as I did when I came to America. The lights will go out around the world when freedom dies!”
I don’t know about you but I don’t want to spend anymore time taking that freedom for granted. Our veterans have fought long and hard for hundreds of years for us to enjoy the liberty we experience as American citizens and I think the best way to repay them is to not let anyone or anything take that away from us.
At the end of Caroline’s school program, two children began to fold up the American flag like they do at military funerals. As they made each fold they told what each fold represented. It was one of the most moving things I’ve ever heard and I’d never heard it before so I thought I’d share it with y’all.
The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
The second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life.
The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain a peace throughout the world.
The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for His divine guidance.
The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.”
The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.
The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered in to the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on mother’s day.
The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.
The tenth fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.
The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost.
When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God we Trust.”
I realize this is not my usual kind of post and some of you may not agree with me. And that’s alright.
Because it’s still a free country.
Also, please don’t miss Patricia’s video of the El Salvadoran Singing Bunny. It’s gold.
**Edited to add that Caroline attends public school which is what makes it even more amazing.**