Reflections on America
Fifteen years ago—in June of 2002—I enjoyed a couple of experiences that are worth reminiscing about.
My family went to see an incredible air show at the Little Rock Air Force Base, and during that same month I got to see a sitting president in person and up close.
But before we get to that, let’s acknowledge that today is Flag Day and it should be highly commemorated.
To some Americans, Flag Day does not mean as much as it once did and that’s a shame.
Furthermore, when we recite the pledge of allegiance, we sometimes do it without passion in our hearts. But it would be far better to focus on the importance of certain words… allegiance… republic… under God… liberty… justice… for all.
Today some people do not show allegiance to the flag and allegiance to the country as a matter of conviction. And to some people, the idea of us being a republic under law is rejected.
We know this because daily news reports show us examples of people who do not respect others, do not respect the law, and do not respect the country.
On Flag Day, however, it is good to remember that even though some do not love America, there are still millions who do.
It is good to remind ourselves that we have much to appreciate and it is always good to say a quiet prayer for the country, asking for peace and harmony among her citizens.
In addition, it is good to enjoy what the preamble to the Constitution referred to as “…the blessings of liberty…”
Patriotic observances and special times with family are important and that’s part of what I remember about June of 2002.
The air show I spoke of was on June 1 of that year. I took my children, and we were joined by my brother and his family. It was an amazing aerial performance and it concluded with an incredible display by the United States Navy’s Blue Angels.
My sons were impressed with the roar of the jet engines. My daughter was only five, but I think she enjoyed it quite a bit too. At least I don’t remember her complaining.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported the next day that 100,000 people were in attendance at the air show.
I wrote in a journal entry at the time that I was glad that we all got to go, and that “…the Blue Angels put on a big show….”
As fate would have it, two days later, on Monday, June 3, 2002, my brother and I returned to Little Rock to hear President George W. Bush speak.
My brother worked with Republicans in Clay County and he secured tickets for the presidential appearance from the Mike Huckabee campaign. (Huckabee was running for his second full four-year term as governor in 2002).
We got in line outside the Statehouse Convention Center at 8:40 a.m. and got inside after about an hour, and then had to wait two more hours before the president would be there to speak.
I wrote in my journal, “It turned out to be a very memorable experience that was worth the waiting. President Bush did
not say a lot of new things in his speech. He talked about the ongoing war on terrorism and how Americans can fight terror by doing good to their neighbors.”
After his speech, the president shook hands with many in the crowd and autographed the tickets that some held out for him to sign. My brother and I were very close to him, but we didn’t fight our way through the crowd to shake his hand.
I wish we had. We were only about six feet away from him at one point and it would have made the day more memorable to say we shook hands with a president while he was in office.
Today, 15 years later, June is still a great time to enjoy America and to spend quality time with family. For that I am grateful.
And even though the country is still dealing with the reality of terrorism, and even though some people choose to intentionally dishonor the American flag, I remain grateful.
I am grateful that many of you feel the same way I do, that the American flag means something extremely significant.
I am grateful that America is still strong, in spite of any difficulties and discord. And I am grateful that we are free to celebrate our freedom, direct our own lives, and practice our faith as we see fit.
That’s what America has always been all about. It is not, as some people think, an oppressive place in which radical changes are needed. On the contrary, it remains the world’s best hope for peace, harmony, opportunity, and freedom.
That’s true on Flag Day. And every day.
— David Wilson, EdD, of Springdale, is a writer, consultant and presenter, who grew up in Arkansas but worked 27 years in education in Missouri. You may e-mail him at dwnotes@ hotmail.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.