Our Flag Is Still There...

Our Flag Is Still There...
Posted on 02/01/2018

By Council Member Mike Shelton

During the critical days of the War of 1812, American lawyer Francis Scott Key boarded the flagship of the British fleet to negotiate the release of a friend. During his negotiations, Key became aware of an impending British attack on Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor. To prevent the discovery of their plans, the British held Key and his companions about eight miles off shore. The Americans could only watch as the barrage began, sending a downpour of shells and rockets upon the fort. When night fell, Key saw only red erupting in the night sky. Given the scale of the attack, Key was certain the British would prevail. He would not know the outcome of the battle until dawn.

In “the dawn’s early light” on September 14, Key scanned the morning sky over the fort and discovered that his flag, The Star-Spangled Banner, yet waved o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I can only imagine the immense relief that came as Key recognized that his country had survived the attack. 

It has come to mean a lot to me that The Star-Spangled Banner yet waves over our country. As a child, I occasionally had the opportunity to pledge allegiance to the flag. For much of my adult life, those opportunities came less frequently. One of the great privileges that has come to me by regularly attending city meetings has been my opportunity to pledge allegiance to the flag. Sometime shortly after I was elected, the flag took on a deeper significance to me and I began to think of it as a representation of the service and sacrifice of the great people of our nation. Each time I pledge allegiance, I take a second to look at a red stripe against a white stripe and I picture the ribbons of heroes’ blood washed up on the beach of liberating strife.

While the 50 stars and 13 stripes represent our great states and our original colonies, the flag has come to mean more than that to me. I love our spacious skies, our amber waves of grain, our purple mountains, and our beautiful land from sea to shining sea, but more than that I love our selfless heroes. For me, our flag is not only a representation of our geography, or our government. Our flag pays honor and tribute to our best people.

Who are the heroes of our nation?

O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life.  

At the top of our list of national heroes are our service men and women. Many have given their lives for our good. I have come to recognize that our firefighters and police officers and others who risk their lives to preserve public safety are likewise national heroes. Our flag pays tribute to those who risk their lives for the good of others. 

For me, the list of our national heroes continues.

O beautiful for heroes proved in self-effacing life, who more than self their something loved and service more than strife.

If, as Benjamin Franklin said, time “is the stuff life is made of,” our nation, our city, our homes are full of heroes who lay down the stuff of their lives for the good of others.

I have been fortunate enough to witness so many who give of their talents and their time to benefit our community. I see this kind of hero in the host of community volunteers and in our school teachers, administrators and coaches. I see this kind of hero in those who give up the stuff of their lives to ecclesiastical and community service, in those who protect animals and among those who sacrifice for the environment. I see this kind of hero in those who help those who can’t help themselves.

Also near the top of my list of national heroes are good parents and those who love and care for children. My parents will always be my heroes. They gave up their time, and their interests, the stuff of their lives for the good of their family. I suspect that most of you have kids who feel the same way about you (or at least they will when they are old enough to understand the sacrifices that their parents made for them).

We are surrounded by national heroes. Some will be recognized for their service, and some will not. I am so grateful for them all. It is that group of heroes that makes our country great.

If our flag pays tribute to our best people, then our flag pays tribute to all who more than self their something love.

‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O long may it wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!