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June 19, 2008

For Freedom and Liberty

Chris Cavey

Last week was Flag Week; Saturday, June 14, was Flag Day. It’s a shame that many Americans take this symbol of our freedom for granted. Here at the “Cavey Compound” Old Glory flies everyday because we are free…and my Dad makes sure it happens.


My parents live in the house between my youngest brother and my family. All together the three properties encompass about four beautiful acres in the Hampstead zip code near the Baltimore/Carroll County line. Each day, under proper weather conditions, my 79-year-old father raises the flag to honor our country.


Back in the day, as a much younger man, I didn’t think much about the flag, it was just always there. Up the pole in the morning before Dad left for his commute to work, and then later folded on his desk when I came home long after dark.


It was just something Dad did, like going to work, or mowing the lawn.


I always figured I was “patriotic,” after all John Phillip Sousa music albums were always on the family record player on the 4th of July. I knew the Pledge of Allegiance in the first grade and had been taught how to handle and respect the flag. But it wasn’t until later in life that I really understood what it was really about.


There was no epiphany that flooded over me with knowledge of patriotism. It was just the sheer fact I matured, nothing more. Things like watching our troops salute the flag, knowing that these people are defenders of our liberty. Talking to clients who are veterans and hearing their stories about the cost of freedom.


In 1814 Francis Scott Key welled up with pride because he knew, as the flag continued to wave in the early morning, that the battle was not lost. The flag was a sign of hope and inspiration for his poetry that morning in the Baltimore harbor.


The members of the Second Continental Congress in 1777 knew that the new country needed a symbol, which would act to rally troops and represent the liberty and justice for which they were fighting. It was only sewn pieces of cloth at that time; however, by the war’s end, it was a symbol of freedom which endures to this day. I know these things now.


My Dad is pretty frail. He is having severe memory problems. He can’t name his grandchildren anymore. He knows I’m his oldest, but mostly doesn’t call me by my name, because he doesn’t want me to know he can’t recall… But the flag still goes up every morning.


Two weeks ago he went out to raise the flag. After many minutes Mom went to look for him when he didn’t return from the short walk to the big flagpole in the front yard. She found him with the flag hooked to the halyard rope.


He was just standing at the base of the flag “almost in tears.” He had the flag all ready to hoist, fastened to the snap and swivels but couldn’t remember how to pull the rope to raise the flag.


Saturday for a combination Flag Day/Fathers Day present Dad got a new flag. I installed a flag holder just at the right height on his front porch. The new flag looks great and hangs nicely from an easy to carry five-foot aluminum pole.


My brothers and I learned by example the importance of God and country. I wish there were more people who understood that our flag represents justice, liberty and freedom. It is certainly one thing my father has not forgotten.


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