Good Friday morning ...
From my second-floor, sixth grade classroom ... I had a bird's eye view of the flag of the United States flying atop the flagpole in front of Chruchland Elementary School.
Knowing that the flag was in position flying high was of great importance to me since I had been chosen ... along with Joe McCotter ... to be responsible for raising the flag at the beginning of each school day and lowering it before dismissal in the afternoon. It was also our responsibility ... in the event of rain at any time during the day ... to hustle to the flagpole and remove the flag as quickly as possible and return it to the school office. I took this responsibility very seriously and was quite proud to do so.
I had always suspected that Joe was chosen to be the "flag man" because he was the nephew of Luly and Emily Duke, sixth and seventh grade teachers at the school, both of whom were unmarried spinsters. I never really knew why I was chosen for the task. perhaps it was because of my patriotism. But, by golly, when I think about it ... everybody in my class was patriotic in those days!!!
It was 1957 ... only twelve years after the end of WWII! We were twelve and thirteen-year olds ... most of whom came from families who were either military or had fathers who worked at one of the many military installations in the Tidewater area of Virginia. Plus, it was a very patriotic time and there was much enthusiasm for the United States of America and that for which she stood. We were proud to be Americans ... citizens of the "land of the free" ... and known as world liberators. Our President was General Dwight D. Eisenhower, a highly decorated war hero.
A lot of things were different back then ... obviously! We didn't know of the concept of a "terrorist." A "little terror" was a two-year old running wild in the church fellowship hall. We didn't talk about "homosexuals" back then ... but there was a lot of classroom conversation about "Homo sapiens." I don't recall ever hearing the word "single parent" in my childhood and only knew one divorced couple in the realm of my family and friends. To my knowledge, all my classmates were active in a Christian church and I was not aware of meeting a Jewish person until the age of 22. "Hispanic" was an unfamiliar term to me and my friends.
Elvis Presley, Pat Boone, Fats Domino and Buddy Holly and the Crickets were cutting edge Rock 'n Roll back in 1957. The much-ballyhooed Edsel was introduced by the Ford Motor Company ... and became an overnight failure. Russian dogs were launched into orbit around the earth aboard Sputnik II ... integration was forced by Federal troops in Little Rock, Arkansas ... and the Cold War was heating up between the Soviets and the West.
With all that going on, I think I had a crush on Mary Mac Blanchard who offered to assist our flag-raising efforts each day ... but was not allowed because it was a "a job for the boys to do." For all I know ... she might have been on the cutting edge of the "liberation" that would become a movement for women several decades later. But what did I know ... a skinny, freckle-faced redhead?
A lot of things were different back in 1957 ... but our flag still flies today from flagstaffs around the country ... just like it did then. It may not be as revered today as it was then ... and we certainly know it has been abused from time to time during the course of our history. But there it flies ... still a visual testimony to the freedoms for which we stand "one nation under God." And I'm just as proud looking up at it today as I was then ... looking down on it from our second-floor classroom.
Having celebrated Veteran's Day this past Monday ... I am extremely grateful to the men and women who have served, are serving now and who will serve our great country in the future. I am especially grateful to the families of those who gave the ultimate price for these United States. May "God Bless America, land that I love!"
Have a great weekend in the Lord ...