2020 | Week of June 1 | Radio Transcript #1362
As I write this commentary, I’m sitting where I can easily see an American flag flying on private property. It’s waving in the stiff breeze coming off one of Wisconsin’s beautiful lakes. I’m not far from Madison or Milwaukee right now geographically, but it feels as though I’m a million miles removed from what has been taking place in these two cities and other Wisconsin cities over the last couple of days.
Looking at the flag and pondering the mayhem, the senseless destruction of property and the hurting of people, I am conflicted. The flag stands for everything I want to believe about this country…the blood shed by the early colonists to acquire our independence, the growth from 13 original colonies to the unity of fifty individual states forming one nation under God. Even amidst all that is happening in our communities, state and nation, seeing the flag waving today is heartening, maybe something akin to what Francis Scott Key felt on that September day in 1814.
No, we aren’t fighting a physical war with a foreign enemy as we were when Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the War of 1812, when we were back at it with England as our principle foe. But in a very real way, we are fighting for our lives as we deal with the coronavirus and the actions of all levels of government and now as we sort through the aftermath of the tragedy of the death of George Floyd.
Perhaps it’s that we are just days away from the 76th anniversary of D-Day on June 6 or that we are less than two weeks away from Flag Day on June 14 that makes the sight of Old Glory flying high on a flag pole outside my window especially meaningful.
D-Day, which began the two-month Battle of Normandy, resulted in the Allied liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. This invasion was called the beginning of the end of World War II, which would end less than a year later with Germany’s unconditional surrender.
I’m not sure that now some 3 generations later we really understand the significance of D-Day or for that matter, the significance of winning World War II in general. The invasion was costly in every respect but losing the war would have come at an unthinkable cost. Some wars and even some battles must be won, regardless of the cost.
Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day. On August 3, 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress.
Flag Day has some Wisconsin roots. Back in 1885, a grade school teacher in Waubeka, Bernard Cigrand, held the first formal observance of Flag Day and did so at the local school, Stony Hill School. Subsequent to this, Cigrand began advocating for a formal recognition and observance of Flag Day nationally, which obviously did eventually happen, as others across the country joined in to assist him. Cigrand died in 1932, well before congress took official action.
So, what’s the lesson with Flag Day? Maybe it’s that some ideas are big enough and important enough to be tried and then to be advocated for even though victory may be long in coming.
William Wilberforce understood that. He fought tirelessly for the emancipation of the slaves and the abolition of slavery in the United Kingdom for decades. In fact, Wilberforce received the news just 3 days before his death that Parliament had finally passed the Slavery Abolition Act, over 45 years after Wilberforce began his abolition efforts.
I’m in no way comparing Flag Day with the abolition of slavery. But I am saying that for ideas, be they big or small, to move forward, someone has to own them and champion them, sometimes for a very long time.
So what battles and wars do we need to win right now? What ideas are worthy of our tireless dedication and advocacy? Surely as we look at our communities, state and nation, we can see opportunities for good things to come from these current tragedies. If not, then perhaps we need to take some time for reflecting as we see the Star-Spangled Banner waving and for praying as we process the news through the filter of God’s Holy Word. How might we individually be part of the answer to the problems we are experiencing? As we sincerely ask God that question, I’m confident we will get our marching and our advocacy orders.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”