Honor the flag in unity

National holidays are common in every global setting. In the U.S. Memorial Day is a recent memory. Flag Day has just passed. Plans for Independence Day are underway. Labor Day will follow soon enough.

In a recent editorial, the Sun-Gazette spoke of the importance of flying the flag at special times, such as those mentioned. The editorial encourages everyone to “stand up proud and tall,” in honor of the symbolic gestures the flag calls for careful consideration.

Let the truth be told. Of course, it is necessary for all to observe personal time, moving beyond the self, standing tall, showing respect for the symbolic signs of unity and related goodness which the flag seeks to call to mind. Old Glory, symbolizes and celebrates life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But in our quest to honor these ideals, do we take the time to shine for each other in our standing proud and tall?

Standing tall and being proud for ideals that are self-serving alone contradicts the principles to what the flag means. How do we live out the true meaning of what the flag stands for? Life includes not only what “I” want but what is best for all. Liberty is to affirm the rights of all humanity, not just those who look like “me,” think like “me,” live according to “my” lifestyle, or, who believe in the same understanding of God, as “I” do. Liberty is a universal quest which includes all people. Happiness is not only what makes “me” happy, but, also assumes the responsibility of equally helping to make my neighbor happy as well. Flying the flag helps us recall we are in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness together.

In Deuteronomy (10:17), the fifth book of Torah in the Hebrew Bible which Jews, Christians and Muslims alike hold as sacred religious texts, the author writes, “The Lord your God is the God of gods, Lord of Lords…, who shows no partiality…” In the Christian New Testament, we reflect on similar words found in Acts (of the Apostles) 10:37. Sacred scripture reminds us of the importance of every person in our global village and of God’s affirmation that no one is better than another or more is deserving than another. The flag symbolizes this in our national setting, as a result of divine initiative.

“Stand tall, be proud,” honor the Flag. Stand tall and shine, believing in the flag’s symbolism. Hope in it for the benefit of family and the tie that binds us together in heaven on earth. Then live according to it, never to the exclusion of one’s self, but to the inclusion of all God’s children everywhere.

— Shellhamer is a semi-retired pastor who serves the Lutheran/Presbyterian traditions.