Defense of Country
In Remembrance of Flag Day
June 14, 2013
Flags line streets and hang from poles throughout America in honor of the adoption of the flag of the United States by resolution of the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. Flag Day parades bring thousands together in Quincy, Massachusetts, Troy, New York, and throughout the country. The unfurled flag lifted by a breeze stirs patriotism and remembrance. All over the United States, some flags do not fly as freely. Encased in boxes, mounted in a frame or reverently placed in a chest of drawers, these flags mark those who have given their lives for their country. No more poignant scene concludes a military funeral than the handing over of the folded flag to members of the deceased’s family.
* * *
Arthur called and said Mama needed us. I dropped the cleaning rag, grabbed my purse, and drove out to the country on that spring morning so long ago. Mama, with arms resting on the worn oak table and tears glistening, once more opened the wrinkled telegram to read, ‘We regret to inform you that your son Maddox Bolton died today in a plane crash, along with the rest of his crew.”
“He gave his all,” Mama said.
* * *
Rifles crack in salute. My spine recoils. My feet push at the funeral grass. With ceremony, the color guard lifts the flag and folds and creases it, triangle upon triangle, with the final piece so tightly tucked. The red of valor, the white of purity, the blue of justice. Placed in my hands, the cloth is a collective weight of sorrow. Fingering the coarse stars, I think for this, I lost a brother, and now have traded a son. Jets howl overhead, one missing in formation, gone to fly where pilots seek the sun and disappear into the endless sky.
I clutch the flag to my chest and weep and pray: