Did you miss the flag dedication of the beautifully big American Flag located here in town on Hwy. 17 near the overpass? Yeah, me too. The flag was put up by Tidal Construction Company and had its official dedication on Oct. 19. I am disappointed that I missed it, but thrilled that the flag is there.
This is not just any flag. This is an American Flag - a really big American Flag. The wind happened to be blowing the first time I saw it. Lucky me, sort of. The view was so breathtaking, I thought I was going to wreck.
The first time I saw it with my husband I squealed, "There it is!" Oddly, he was not nearly as impressed as I. Seeing my confusion, he explained, "I’ve seen it at night." The next chance I got, I saw what he meant.
Now, I drive by there every chance I get. I will change my route home on occasion. It is the most fun when my six year old is with me and becomes inspired to sing "You’re a Grand Ol’ Flag" or "The Star Spangled Banner." The sight never ceases to give me chills and hope. It is times like these I miss being in the military.
0800 hours (8 a.m. for you civilian types) and sunset are awesome times on military installations everywhere. This is the time for colors. Five minutes before, there is the preparation call over the base loud speaker. The raising of the flag is then accompanied by the National Anthem in the morning and Taps while being lowered at night.
The ceremony occurs daily. Yes, I mean every day. All uniformed personnel located outdoors, within hearing, are required to come to attention and salute the flag during colors. On good bases, civilians stop as well and put their hands over their hearts. On great bases, the cars stop. On exceptional ones, the drivers get out of their cars and join in the observation.
There are those folks who feel imposed upon by the repetition of ceremony. They are easy to pick out after the five minute call. They can be seen running for the indoors or speeding for the parking lot. A minute or so of observation is too much for them it seems. Now I am not a person easily irritated, but this will do it - every time.
Should I have kept this feather in my hat and saved it for a bang up Fourth of July column? Maybe. Honestly, I considered waiting until that holiday season. Then I thought of this holiday season approaching. I have missed a Thanksgiving or two for that flag. Missed some birthdays, anniversaries, fevers, tears, laughs, kisses, and hugs. Those voids don’t wait for a holiday.
Now, I won’t bore you with my feelings on deployments, troop schedules, or current missions. Buy me a cup of coffee if you like and maybe we can talk about it. But really, who cares what I think about that kind of stuff? The facts are lots of families will be separated this holiday season and that big beautiful flag is the banner under which that separation happens.
It is the flag that is pledged to when we are children, join the Boy or Girl Scouts, and get inducted into the Rotary. It is flag that is solemnly sworn to prior military service, at every reenlistment, and presented at retirement. It is the flag that is given to the mother, father, wife, husband, son and daughter when the unthinkable happens.
I would have loved to have been at that dedication. What a wonderful moment missed to honor the heroes of our nation by celebrating the colors of our country. I will just have to make sure I pass by more often and remember to appreciate and reflect.
April Groves is a wife, mother, professional, Navy veteran, and Richmond Hill resident. She can be reached at email@example.com.