Tattered Flags and Our Torn Country

By: Beth Gillem
On Behalf of Dondra Houlditch
| June 14, 2020 |

Today I had a chance to spend some time with Brewer. We were on an errand to pick up old flags from my parents. Flag Day is Sunday and Troop 50 will conduct a Flag Retirement Ceremony at sunset. (If you have never seen one of these ceremonies, I urge you to make it a point.)

While in the car we swapped riddles and jokes. He asked me, “What’s Black, White, and Red all over?” Sadly, the first response that popped in my head was, “This country, if we don’t hit our knees and soften our hearts.” We arrived at Mother and Daddy’s and spent some much-needed time with them. On the way back home, I asked Brew his thoughts on all that is going on in the world these days (leaving him plenty of room to answer). His reply addressed the pandemic, the murder of Mr. Floyd, and the social unrest in which the world is immersed. His answers were earnest, well rounded, and deeply personal. This young man surprised his Mamma and gave me a glimpse of the man into whom he is growing.

The Folding of the Flags…

There were three bags of flags which we needed to fold properly once we returned home. Brewer is a pro flag folder…I was glad to play second fiddle. We removed each flag and unfurled it, taking care that it did not touch the ground. We quickly fell into a pattern of folding. Brewer took the stripe end and I the field. Each flag was snapped fully open and held taught before it was halved and halved again lengthwise. Then with tension between us, Brewer slowly began his flag-length trip to me making tri-folds along the way so that I could tuck the loose end inside the pocket created by the folds. The fabric in these flags was worn thin, torn, stretched out of shape by the wind, and faded to varying degrees by the sun. As I watched my man-child take care in each fold, gathering the ripped pieces, shaping stretched material into neat points, I thought about what these flags represent. The red stripes for valor and hardiness, the white which reminds us of purity and innocence, and the blue field signifying vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

In these flags, I see the families who displayed them with thanks in their hearts.

I see those who suffer rips and tears from their fellow man and yet stand resolute in the name of justice because it is right. I see the ideal summer days we all wish for our children even when we know reality is otherwise. I see those who care for others without waiver amidst horrific circumstances. I see those who have lost everything yet will get up tomorrow and start anew. I see the blood of the fallen who sacrificed for us as Americans and the blood of the One who sacrificed for us all. I see the young men like my Brewer who learn to show respect and care for such venerated reminders.

Today I told Brewer I don’t know what’s coming.

I don’t know if what I say, think or do at any given moment is “the right” thing. I also told him that none of this…the pandemic, systemic or isolated racism, civil unrest, floods, famine, or pestilence….is a surprise to God our Father, Creator of the Universe. This is not the summer I wish for my son, but these are our days. Many peoples throughout time in this fallen world have lived through horrific suffering…those times were not a surprise to God either. He wasn’t away on vacation or scrambling to figure out a quick fix…He was right there with His children through it all. He is right here with us now. My daily prayer is that He lend me eyes to see, ears to hear, a broken heart and helpful hands so that His Kingdom is brought honor and glory.

Peace be with you brothers and sisters.

This post was written and originally shared by Dondra Houlditch. Dondra and Brewer, thank you so much for sharing your heart with all of us.

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