Monday, April 23, 2007

A Flag Flown High

The largest flag flown on the tallest flagpole in the U.S. is visible just a mile down the road from my house, even though it is 10 miles away. Last week, that flag hung limply at half-mast as a tribute to the Virginia Tech students whose lives were snuffed out by a deranged shooter. It was not the only U.S. flag lowered in their honor.
I think it is right for us as a nation to stand back and recognize their deaths. In some way, the act that robbed them of a future robbed us, too. I'm not so sure, though, that lowering the American flag is the way to do it.
It is right to lower the flag to honor those we have elected or who have been chosen to serve as our governing officials. Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, and others have been chosen to represent us. They have offered to serve the public, and have been taken up on that offer. We lower our flags to honor them at their death.
Today there are thousands of men and women who have chosen to represent us in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan and other locations thoughout the world. We do not have a draft system, so they chose to represent us. And yet...when one or two or ten of them fall before a deranged shooter, our flags fly high. Why is that? Should we not honor them, at least in their home states, when their lives are shortened in the cause of freedom? Should we not lower our flags for them?
Whether or not we support the war in Iraq, or Afghanistan, should we not support those who represent us there?
On a related issue...
Our society has become so infatuated with numbers...more and more and more has come to mean more meaningful. If only 3 students had died instead of 33...Would we have lowered the flags for only 3? Does a single human life still count?
I wonder.


Geoff Baggett said...

Great questions.
Many of us have been having the same thoughts.
Unfortunately, this shooting did not affect me in the same ways that the previous ones did. I guess the execution of the little Amish girls completely obliterated any sense of cultural "innocence' that I may have had. I do wish that this event had shocked me more ... but i just can't seem to be shocked anymore by what happens in our world or even our own land.

Elder's Wife said...

I guess I am less "shockable" than I used to be, too...especially when I am relationally distanced from an event and its people. Shock is such a physical and emotional response that I guess I just can't invest as much in it as I used to. There have been too many Columbine's, and it's hard to imagine the horror of another 9/11.
What scares me more is the fact that I have become so insensitive to sin. And if I a insensitive to the sin of others, how much of my own no longer bothers me?

Tony said...


You do ask good questions here.

I saw on a blog a few days ago where someone had written, "33 in Iraq is a good day." It was shocking...but nonetheless true. That is what Iraqis live with, every single day.

The killings at Tech for us were real--these were young kids with bright futures, lives prematurely snuffed out. As we hear their life stories, about their funerals, testimonies from friends, it strikes close to home.

The daily deaths in Iraq, however, are somehow not real. Those lives were equally precious, the victims equally loved, yet they are presented to us as numbers devoid of any real humanity. "25 killed in a suicide bombing today in Mosul." Do any of us actually hear that any more? I don't think I do. It's become part of the background noise of our lives.

The horror we experienced on a single day in a single week plays out horrifically in Iraq day by day. I would love to know how they cope. How do any of us cope?
Only by the grace of a loving Christ.

I don't know if I answered any of the questions, but fwiw, thanks for listening!

Elder's Wife said...

I guess it's up to us to make each life count, both our own and those around us. Would I want someone to care about me, pray for me, if I were in the military? You bet. What about military families? What about the people down the street? What about the Asian or Hispanic or Moslem families?
This whole "intentional/missional" discussion falls flat if all we do is talk about it and ignore the people God puts on my doorstep. My mission, right now, is to make each life count for Him, where I am. If I know to do right and fail to do it, that is sin, isn't it?
Thanks for commenting. Feel free to hold me accountable to practice what I preach.

selahV said...

Kat: I've thought that so many times we don't honor our fallen soldiers near enough. I would like to know when a group comes home from the war. I would like to know when a group leaves. I would like to see our states capitals fly at half-mast--at the very least--for a week when a soldier from our state dies.

There is never a report of a death in Iraq that doesn't grip my heart and soul for the loved ones of that fallen soldier. I also consider those who are maimed as well.

I think the 2 minute snippets they toss our way each nite regarding the deaths of soldiers is so disheartening in light of the hours and hours they put out about Paris Hilton, Anna Nicole and others.

I sat and scrolled through the photos on AOL of the VaTech students and cried and prayed for their families.

Your post should be read by our state representatives. Perhaps a letter to your rep would light a spark to make a difference for soldiers everywhere. I know a parent and loved one who lost someone would be comforted by the gesture. selahV

Elder's Wife said...

"Honor" seems to be old-fashioned these days. People don't honor God, and they don't honor those made in His image, either.
I've been thinking a bit about the fact that on Memorial Day we give lipservice to those who gave their lives for our country...but we don't give much thought to those whose lives are on the line each day in our military and police force. We "honor" 2-minute celebrities, but we fail to honor heroes, either living or dead.

selahV said...

kat: how are you doing? selahV

elder's wife said...

Hi Selahv-
I've been fine--just overwhelmed by "stuff" (literally). The Lord has been showing me that it's time to get rid of some of the baggage in my closets, so I've done garage sales for the last 3 weeks. I have not had the time (or concentration) to even post on my blog, although I have been learning some needed truths in the Bible studies I lead each week.
I finally got around to reading my favorite bloggers and saw that the Lord has been carrying you through some deep places in the past weeks. How is your husband doing since that heart attack?
You know, this conversation would be a lot easier if you could just drop over for a cup of coffee! Let me know when you will be in Wisconsin :)

selahV said...

Kat: I'd love to come by and have a cup of coffee. and a couple of cups of hot peach tea flavored with honey. I can relate to the yardsale thing. I'm thinking about having one myself. Geesh, that would be a bigger undertaking than moving to a new house.

Yeah, me and the hubby have been muddling through the past month with absolutely no idea what we are suppose to do, think or say. We just take one day at a time. He's not going to ever be the same again, but that's okay. He's gonna be here a bit longer and that is all that matters for now.

I like your post on your father. I'm gonna go there now and comment.

elder's wife said...

Hi Selah-
Good to hear from you again. I thought I'd better blog while I can. In mid-July, I'm scheduled for surgery on my left hand/wrist. That will put me out of commission for 4-6 weeks as far as rapid keyboarding is concerned.
BTW, I read recently that the Wisconsin capitol flags fly at half mast on the day of the funeral when one of our state military personnel is buried. I was glad to hear that at least we honor our military that much.
Also, our "ex" son-in-law will leave for Iraq tomorrow after a 2-week leave here to attend our grandson's high school graduation. If Brent comes to your mind, please pray for him, both as he travels back there and as he serves there until September.