Young Nate had a blast running through the cornfield and picking out pumpkins, but then the little boy saw his Grandpa standing by an American flag next to the field.
“What are you doing, Grandpa?”
“Remembering when I was your age and we kids said the Pledge of Allegiance in front of the flag every morning.”
Nate looked down if he were embarrassed.
“What’s wrong?” Grandpa put his hand on the boy’s shoulder.
The fourth grader looked up at Grandpa. “Some kids at school say we should kneel instead of stand in front of the flag because of racism.”
Grandpa knelt down. “I know that our country has done bad things and we still have problems that need fixing, and if people want to kneel, that’s their right. That’s what makes America free. But it’s never been about what’s wrong with America, but about our ideals, who we are when we’re our best. I’ll always stand. People who forget that will always live in fear. The flag is a reminder of what freedom is, and when you’re free, you’re never afraid.”
The old man was kneeling in front of the flag, but only so he could hug his dear grandson.
I wrote this for Week #37 of the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.
Yesterday was the 17th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks against our nation, and America still carries a lot of collective pain from that day. I wrote a wee fictional tale honoring the victims and those who survived them, so the feelings are still fresh within me.
I wish I had more than 200 words to express what I’m trying to say. I know that there will always be people who will kneel in front of the flag as long as they perceive there being social injustice in this nation. That’s their right as American citizens. That’s what it means to be free. But what I tried to say today echos what I recently wrote in a longer essay a few days back.
Right now, a lot of people are afraid of that guy in the White House. They’re afraid about who will be the next Supreme Court Justice. They’re afraid of a lot of things, real and imagined. But I choose not to live in perpetual fear. Yes, I get scared of things sometimes, but both my identity as an American and my faith in God help me realize that I wasn’t born to be afraid. Isaiah 43:1 says “Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.”
The Almighty was addressing Israel, not the people of the nations, but through faith to the King of Israel and by his merit, the rest of us can also be called children of God. Presidents are temporary. God is everlasting. If you don’t believe, that’s fine. We all negotiate our relationship with the Creator in different ways. I’m just glad I live in a country where people are free, both to kneel in front of the flag and to pray to and have faith in God. It’s the same country, and it’s the same freedom.
To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.
P.S. Don’t forget to contribute your own story to Roger’s linkup. Thanks.
5 thoughts on “What It Means to be Free”
Your story is lovely, and offers an excellent reminder that the focus of the flag or the national anthem is not any of the things that may be wrong or in need of correction, but on the ideals and goals that should guide admittedly-needed improvements. It’s not someone’s protest that is honorable, but the efforts that may be made to right wrongs or improve something that is less than ideal.
Thanks, but based on my experience with different opinions on social media, a lot of folks disagree with us, or at least, the most vocal folks do. That said, this is my answer to anyone who says that it’s racist to stand for the national anthem.
Ah, yes, well, anyone who asserts that it is racist to stand for the performance of the national anthem is irrationally ignoring what the national anthem actually stands for. Such a one is inventing “casus belli” arbitrarily, seeking bellicosity rather than brotherhood, confrontation rather than community, revolution rather than resolution. They ought to be reminded of the proverb: “Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it!”.
LikeLiked by 1 person
It’s certainly not racist to stand.
This is why I stand for the flag, because this local man can’t, and yet he’s done this for the past 17 years: