It was an uneasy sight to behold. Seven of my company’s offshore drilling rigs were parked in a cluster of the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico with no jobs. Idle iron that once provided incomes for many families now resembled an offshore version of a ghost town. The ignorance by governing officials concerning an industry caused panic decisions and policies to needlessly remove the incomes of thousands. Now we wait for our elected officials to learn what they should have known – how to effectively lead instead of blind panic reflex.
One morning, Ed, a co-worker and I were required to go to the other rigs and retrieve documentation of equipment histories for those rigs for our management office. On one of the rigs we were coming down a stair case when Ed noticed something that stopped him in his tracks. I turned to see a United States flag had been lowered and tied in a knot to the nearby handrail. I knew that our thoughts and emotions were mirrored. We noticed that the flag was still attached to the flag pole rope with plastic ty-raps. We cut the ty-raps and untied the flag from the handrail careful to not allow it to touch the deck. We brought it inside the living quarters and stretched the wrinkled flag to lay flat. We stepped back, staring at the flag for a moment before proceeding on our way.
“This generation has no respect for our flag and what it represents. The shame is that they probably don’t even know what it stands for.” I said as we walked.
Ed, stopped me. “George, it’s not just this generation . . . It’s ours too.”
I nodded my head in agreement as we continued on our way.
As the days passed my mind was consumed with the image of that US flag tied in a knot to that handrail. I’m sure the person who tied it there wasn’t doing it out of disrespect. In their mind they were attempting to protect the flag from the winds of ravaging storms that could come through that area during this hurricane season. But their ignorance of the proper care of our symbol of freedom only painted a picture of the apathy and ignorance of patriotism. Patriotism as this country once knew it. There are forgotten Federal rules regarding our country’s flag and the honor and respect it is to be given. While congress made no penalty provisions for non-conformance to these rules true patriots never needed laws to adhere and demonstrate respect for our flag.
No flag is to be flown above the Stars and Strips on the same flag pole but the state and federal government allow a store on California to fly a Mexican flag above the US flag on the same pole. They even hung the American flag upside down under the Mexican flag. The local police department was ordered to protect the store owner’s rights to do so when the few local American patriots publicly voiced their anger for such an act.
If you chose to fly a flag on your flag pole beyond sundown you were required to have flood lights to shine on the flag during the night.
If an American flag touches the ground it is to be disposed of in a prescribed manner not simply thrown away.
Our school systems no longer teach respect for what our American flag stands for but our country grants citizenship to those who hate what it stands for. For decades our lawmakers have sought to rob from the freedoms that were paid for in blood by our forefathers. We are heading for a clash of epic proportions in this country over differences of opinions of what “freedom” means to Americans.
The image burned into my memory of that knotted flag I feel is symbolic of the bound freedoms we are heading toward. It will take all Americans to remove the scales of apathy from their eyes and take steps to put their hands on that knotted and wrinkled flag to protect it from those who by ignorance or purposely come against the freedoms our soldiers, both today and yesterday, fought for.
A quote I read not long ago sums up my feelings toward the symbol of freedom for which so many have died to defend.
"It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag."