The Shadow of the Flag
~ Written by Liz Detter ~ Updated from 2009 ~
I could take no more, and I nearly collapsed on the front porch step. I had a ways to go before I finished my Saturday chores, and it was either take a break and catch my breath or become the center of a dramatic front yard emergency scene.
I chose the porch step… and with a glass of ice cold water in hand, I attempted to undo the effects of 3 1/2 hours of yard work in the Florida Summer sun by doing something I rarely do… being still.
I sat to calm my heartrate as the sun burned like a laser across my shoulders. With my chin in my hands, I breathed a deep sigh and enjoyed the scene laid out before me, which was topped with an overwhelmingly beautiful sapphire sky.
Ahhhh… There was a nice little ocean breeze carrying the scent of the freshly cut, ultra-green grass my way, and the hum of the air conditioner nearby kept me company along with my front porch thoughts and the trickling beads of sweat running down the side of my face. Neighbors passed and waved, birds were singing pleasant tunes and my mind was lulled by the the gentle sound of the dull flapping overhead as Queen Palm shadows swayed around me, briefly cooling me as they passed.
That sun was fierce though. I started to wish some of that shade would just stay put long enough to cool me off before my skin disintegrated. Then, as if on cue, a cheerful breeze kicked up, and a full and refreshing shadow fell over me. It was heaven.
What a relief.
I looked up, and with a sinking sense of guilt, I realized that I had been unmindfully sitting all that time in the shadow of the flag. I cringed. While enjoying the colors around me, I had forgotten the colors of Old Glory that snapped to attention just above me out of sight. Yet there it was unfurled and faithfully laying it’s shadow over me.
I was sitting in freedom on my own front porch, sipping cool water, practically swimming in green grass and touched by a salty breeze.
The men for whom I pray each day as I touch and pass that flag, have in contrast, faithfully traded treasures like my front porch moment and family members like those on the other side of my front door to stand against the enemies of our freedom, and to keep those enemies from the street where I live.
It is these men who have maintained this beautiful Saturday scene for me. Even now they’ve got me covered. They are the faithful and protective shadow that covers our entire nation like that flag waving overhead… covering it with each of their one and only lives.
Sadly, they only occasionally show up on the American radar, yet they relentlessly defend our personal American freedom even when we don’t bother to look their way.
This 4th of July, as you enjoy the fireworks that light up the night, and as that beat pounds through your chest, remember that even during that moment, you are standing in the shadow of someone who is paying for the gift of your liberty with his sacred honor.
As you “ooh” and “ahhh” at the sight and sound of the rockets’ red glare, keep in mind that the heavy boom of explosions that echo to his very core does not come from a colorful, entertaining display; it is a fearsome assault he endures to maintain and defend our incredible life of freedom. He faithfully engages in battle so we can lie back on a blanket and enjoy the show in the greatest nation on earth.
When the colors fill the sky, take a minute to ask God to go above and below, before and behind and on every side of our “boys”… to wrap his protective arms around them…
…whispering into each one’s ear that they are loved, remembered and that they are not alone.
Celebrate your freedom this 4th of July, and remember those who represent the flag whose shadow is always waving a reminder of our freedom.
When the colors explode across the sky…
…instead of “ooh” and “ahh“,
perhaps it might be more appropriate to whisper a heartfelt “OOOH RAH”.
Happy Independence Day, Lake Park!