Monuments, flag represent freedom
Published 9:12 pm Thursday, August 22, 2019
By Myrtle Virginia Thompson
Memorials and monuments represent the building of this country — our struggles, losses, victories. Losing sight of the past means a younger generation will never know how we became who we are, a nation with life, liberty and freedom to pursue happiness.
I am stepping back in time, remembering a visit on Nov. 11, 2016, to the Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery. Large flags were flying high, small ones placed on each grave. Thanks are due to the Horton family for the legacy of this site.
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Along with a beautiful blue sky overhead and the red, white and blue of the flags adorning the grounds came the reminder this is a sacred place. The gentle breeze seemed to be making the flags dance with joy at the remembrance we are still free enough to honor those who lie in graves, their names inscribed in stone sacred for their memory.
My daughter, a professor of history, recalled returning to America from other countries where we had lived and served. Seeing that beloved flag flying at the port of entry is an unforgettable memory. America was always home.
My husband is buried in the Horton Cemetery. He was a proud Navy veteran of World War II. He liked to remind us that when he graduated from high school in 1942, he left with his cap in his hand, his gown over his arm, and went straight to the recruiting office, where he volunteered to join the submarine service. He lived through the war and in 1945 was grateful to be among those going home, a privilege not shared by many. Some of their bodies still lie on foreign soil. These men and women confronted death for our freedom — my freedom to worship Jesus Christ, to speak of Him Who wanted us to live free from the intents of evil.
Our nation of military volunteers in wartime gave up everything so future generations could live without fear and need. Home folks joined in, doing what we could for the “war effort.” Church doors were left open day and night for people coming in to pray, not wanting to have their lives taken over by the evil forces of the despot Hitler and his Nazi philosophy. God answered our prayers and delivered us from an evil ideology. The heavy toll of lives was proof America’s young cared about freedom.
Children were walking on the sacred ground at the cemetery. Parents were reviewing history, one family member explaining why this day marked a time when our lives could have been changed forever.
Our flag has powerful symbols of freedom: laws, faith, blessings. The colors chosen and sewn into it have an unintended meaning, seen through eyes of faith by people like me. Isaiah in the Old Testament inscribed God-given words about freedom from the evil power of sin, (“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”) He visualized the death of Christ (Isaiah 52-53) when he wrote of the One Who could deliver us from man’s inhumanity to man. God-given privileges and principles have guided our country in the past; the use of kindness and respect, not to steal, lie or cheat, to care for the poor, not to defame each other, not to demoralize women. Some of these ideals have become slightly jaded.
The flags flying under the blue sky are a reminder we have freedom to teach life-changing truths. I proudly fly my flag each day with a desire to honor those who made possible my freedom to do just that.
Myrtle V. Thompson, 91, is a retired educator and missionary and a writer. Contact her at email@example.com.