By Barb Hauge
Once a year, during the Fourth of July celebrations, I wear my Independence Dress which is a kind of mumu I bought cheap in Arizona. Its a gaudy affair covered with stars, stripes, American eagles and lots of nautical rope. During the All-Class Reunion of Chinook High School this year one friend laughed and said, I dont know whether to salute you or shoot you.
Because there is so much controversy about a penalty imposed for being disrespectful and for desecrating the American flag, my friend wasnt sure how one should react to my star-spangled dress.
American flags are probably burned by the thousands each year. Aye, tear her tattered ensign down; long has she waved on high. Wind and weather take a heavy toll on American flags which must then be destroyed or else they would become dust or mop or maybe even grease rags; the usual fate of cloth that has outlived its usefulness. It gets recycled. But, for the American flag, such use would be degrading and unseemly, so they are burned. Its only when publicly burned in protest that officialdom itself starts to protest.
You really cant have it both ways. Laws which make it a crime to burn the American flag will put a lot of official people in jail.
After my husbands sister had become a California city girl, she came to visit the farm and got really mad at her brother when he butchered a calf. Yet he had committed this reprehensible act because her favorite food is steak.
No, we really cant have it both ways. The American flag is judged worldwide by what it represents and in some areas truly ugly Americans have turned our flag into a symbol of greed and power that usurps much of the worlds wealth for itself and leaves multitudes of people in poverty, powerless to improve their own lives.
Our flag rekindles in most of us those stirring lessons from American history when little American David slew the British Goliath. We thrill to the words of our Declaration of Independence. We are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights; among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We hold these truths to be self evident; that all men are created equal.
Then there is Patrick Henry who said, Give me liberty or give me death! and much later Abraham Lincolns That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that governments of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from this Earth!
Many years ago I wrote a flag ceremony that was performed at National Farmers Union All-States Camp in Estes Park, Colo.
Theres a New World of Freedom thats calling across the plains to me and the cry for freedom echoes back from the mountains to the sea. Around our World, from sun to sun, millions join the cry. Stronger grow the multitudes their voices raise on high. Theres no defeat. We wont go back. You cannot put us down. Though your wealth buys multitudes among us rise to fight where one may fall. Our surging masses cant be stopped. We hear The New Worlds Call!
And, the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, follow many paths to Libertys lady, holding high her torch above the golden door.