No. 71


Several weeks ago I received a telephone call from a man by the name of Ron Spradlin who lives here in our community. He had called to tell me how much he was enjoying this column and in the course of our conversation, he shared a very touching and heart warming experience involving the American flag. It seems his son, Daniel, had retrieved a badly soiled and tattered flag from a trash heap where someone had thrown it away. That same afternoon, as Ron was looking out through the back screen door, he saw something that brought tears to his eyes: Daniel was in the process of disposing of this tattered old flag in the proper way.
Ron was so moved by this experience that he wrote the following tribute, titled The Day My Son Burned The American Flag: "Some have cried and cursed those who burn the American flag and would have condemned the culprit to an impersonal body bag. Is it really so important as our wounded and dying fathers say? Well, I watched as my son burned it just the other day. Just a filthy piece of cloth, never again to fly and wave in the air. Without the sun and light, with no respect and without care. Yes, my son burned the flag which he retrieved that day, all torn, tattered and stained with clay. With scissors he trimmed the fray and removed the clinging trash. He smoothed the banner bright and pulled together a gaping gash. He folded Old Glory to a military tuck, then made of sticks a supporting tripod, now a flaming benediction for this ensign, one nation under God. From the back porch I watched smoke curl from that burning rag, folded to a perfect pack, my son burning the American flag. He stood respectfully saluting and adding character to his stately manner. Grasping a harmonica in his left hand, softly played The Star Spangled Banner. I stood so very still, could speak nary a word, a lump in my throat, emotions within me stirred. He has properly learned to dispose of a used-up flag, no doubt. Yes, we are the happy parents of an honorable Eagle Scout."
What you have just read was a tribute written by Ronald Spradlin to honor his son, Daniel, for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. In relation to this, there are many things that could be said, but here are a couple that should be obvious. When our children are young, we should do our best to teach them to love, respect and honor our country. As parents, we just cannot assume that someone else is going to do this later on. I don't know how you feel, but I get very distressed when I see someone not showing the proper respect for or misusing our flag as a symbol of protest.
The American flag, which we often refer to as "Old Glory" symbolizes the very essence of what our country stands for. She represents millions of men and women who have fought on countless battlefields through the years, giving their lives and their all, to win our freedom and then to insure that our nation has remained free. I'm proud to say that I'm a past president of the Lions Club here in our community and we pledge allegiance to our flag at each of our weekly meetings. Make no mistake, our flag is very important and when it comes to disposing of a used-up flag, there is a wrong way to do it, but there is also a right way. Thanks, Ron, for sharing this with us in such a moving and stirring way and for teaching your children to honor and respect our great nation. It's my hope and my prayer that each person who reads this column will think seriously about what the American flag means to them. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)