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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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Nail her to the pole
Jonathan Pait
September 21, 2001

Tomorrow the Stars and Stripes spends its last day flying at half staff. Flying the flag there over the last week certainly was the correct thing to do. We remember the loss of sons and daughters and honor the bravery and sacrifice of the officers and fireman who died. Our burden has been heavy and the lowered flag represents that weight.

The time approaches when the black night of mourning must give way to the light of a new day. We must never forget, but we cannot remain shackled by the fear of this dark night. If we wallow in the pity of the circumstances of the past, we have already lost the war to the shadows of terrorism. We must stand and march toward the sun and it will rise to expose a new dawn.

The twilight covered the land even before the attack plunged us into the darkness. We were a nation divided. We were a nation of appeasement. We were a nation of inordinate introspection. We were a nation grown soft through the enjoyment of our liberties. We chided ourselves for taking pride in our prominent place in the world. We were forgetting the price that had been paid.

Even now, in the darkness of a sad night, we stoop. The desire to fall back on our claim as victims clashes with the rising of the American spirit that has kept us free. The philosophy of relativism pulls at our conscience to ask if we are in the right.

I can see them in the night—the watch fires of a hundred circling camps. The flames flicker sending light across the furrowed brows of soldiers who quietly clean their weapons. There is a Continental soldier keeping his powder dry. At another encampment we see brothers, one in blue and the other gray. They have seen our nation divided. Yet, the courage and fighting spirit of both North and South comes together as one to remind us from what stock we come.

Mexico, Cuba, Europe, the Pacific Islands, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Panama, Kuwait—the fires grow brighter. The night does not seem so dark, though the night is silent. They do not speak to us with words. They only look to us through the misty veil of time and their eyes seem to say, “Remember.”

Our fathers had courage to face the crisis of their times. That courage even called for the greatest of sacrifices. It did not deter them from doing what was right. They built the legacy of freedom in this nation by limiting their own with death and rigors of the battlefield. “Remember,” the eyes say and encourage us to move to meet the crisis of our time.

We look closer and see more flames begin to rise in the night. The radiance of the campfires illuminates the sky. Not all can face the battle with weapon in hand. These flames allow us to see back in time to mothers on their knees in prayer for their sons and the nation they serve. Strong-armed workers stand with tools in hand longing to ramp up the productive might of our nation.

No, the flag must not stay at half-staff. These who have been mourned in times past demand it. Those who lost their lives in the Towers deserve it. “Oh, say can you see, by the dawns early light what so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming. Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous night, ‘ore the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.”

Raise the flag, America. Do not listen to those who would berate you as arrogant and prideful for raising her high. We do not raise it for ourselves. We raise it for them. Our cause is just. Our fight is right. “Oh, say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave, ‘ore the land of free and the home of the brave.”

The light of the fires is swallowed in the light of a new day. The visions disappear, leaving us to chart our own path. Raise the flag, America, and nail it to the pole.

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