We all remember where we were when it happened, don't we?
Here's our story:
It was my birthday and the kids and I had loaded the van for a field trip up to Mother Cabrini Shrine in the foothills above Denver. It was a beautiful day until we turned on the car radio.
The Twin Towers had tumbled down, the Pentagon (where my Dad once worked) was in flames, an airplane had crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. It was such a shock ~ to our family, and to the whole country, though maybe it shouldn't have been.
Someone in the world hated us. Really hated us.
How do you handle that? What do you do? In those first days, America squared its shoulders, cleaned up the mess, and tried to figure it out. Our family ~ we painted a flag on our barn ~ because we didn't know what else we could do. We prayed. And we painted a great big flag.
While we worked on it, cars passing on the road at the bottom of the hill honked and waved up at us, and so now our house is referred to as "you know, the one on the hill with the flag on the barn..."
It looks nice up there, but I guess I look back now and wonder a little what possessed us to do it. I can't say we actually thought or pondered on it at all. We just went out and got the paint and brushes and got started almost immediately. Why?
It wasn't so that we'd stand out as the most patriotic family in our town (We're more the shy, retiring type of family...), or because we thought we ought to join in on the new ranks of flag wavers (We make a point not to follow fads, actually...). It was more, I think, a habit of thought. In our family, like in many other families, we place our hands on our hearts when we say the Pledge of Allegiance, or when the National Anthem is sung. We get teary-eyed hearing the bugle playing Taps at sundown. We love our country. We're small-town, middle-America hoaky that way. We sign on with our hearts to the Catholic notion that patriotism is a virtue of our Faith.
The symbol of our flag was an automatic response of love and concern for our country, naturally.
But, do you want to know why we really painted that flag? We were ticked off and wanted to shove that flag in someone's face! How dare those people bring their satanic plot across our borders, borders which had always been held open, free for the world to share in our bounty; how dare they hurt and kill our people, scar our earth, and stomp on our flag! And then in their twisted minds, in their twisted philosophy, they call us the evil ones?
America evil? The country that runs to the aid of anyone in trouble in the world, contributing more money, supplies and human aid toward foreign disaster than any other nation? The country that has fought for freedom throughout the world, at great loss to itself, and no gain other than to allow more to share in the freedom we hold so dear.
You bet! We painted that flag to shove in the face of those that doubt our country's strength and resolve. Those stars and stripes represent the courage and self-sacrifice of all the American men and women who have fought for the freedom those muslim terrorists would steal from us in a heartbeat.
America may not be the virtuous nation we would wish, but it is not in its essence and philosphy evil. If you believe in the America that the media represents to the world you'd be hard-pressed to find anything left of the spirit and morality our forefathers took for granted. It's true that the evils of modernism have weakened our country to its core. But, I think that, even though it may be weak, America's heart still beats for freedom, for the inalienable right to the reality of those words: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And I think most Americans still believe the words of the Declaration, which define the original intention of those first signers to acknowlege and honor God as the supreme Author of our freedom, our divine Legislator, our merciful Protector, and our final Judge. It's just that people need to be shaken up sometimes to remember.
It's such a pity that it takes heart rending events like 9/11 to shake us up. And it's sad that we seem to forget so quickly.
And, so that flag on the barn helps us to remember. Our liberty is a tool for Christianity if we use it properly. Prayerfully. It will be no use to us without a crucifix above it.
God bless and help our country!