Marc Garcia plays the trumpet at a ceremony at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetary. Photo by Bill Milligan.
By Carl Hendrickson
For the Call
I stood at attention, with my back straight, or as straight as an old man could, with my hand over my heart. I had arrived early to pick up our granddaughters from their private parochial school. Older students were lowering the flag from its pole where it had flown all day.
This respect for our country’s flag was taught to me in grammar school, high school and later in the Army. Respect for our flag should be something that binds all of us together, whether we be Republican or Democratic, conservative or liberal, far right or far left.
The flag at our grandchildren’s school is a replica of one that flew through the night 105 years ago during the bombardment of Fort McHenry, signaling defiance to the British. This was during the War of 1812, which some historians have called the second war of independence.
It was a dark time for our young republic. By the end of the summer of 1814, the British Army had taken our capitol and burned the presidential mansion. The president and the cabinet members had fled. Baltimore, protected from sea attack by Fort McHenry, was the next target in the British grand design to divide American forces and crush the newly independent nation.
All through the night of Sept. 13, 1814, British rockets and bombs fell on Fort McHenry. But in the morning the flag, tattered and torn, still flew proudly over the fort. The brave American soldiers withstood the assault.
A young American lawyer who was there, Francis Scott Key, was so moved that he wrote a poem that became our national anthem.
This week we celebrate the 242nd anniversary of the adoption of the flag of the United States by resolution of the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777.
Although not a national holiday, it is a time of reflection. The flag has been an enduring symbol of the country’s ideals since its early days.