Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Coach, The Runner, The Flag

In Kate's softball league each team's coach pitches to his own players. Kate's coach was doing just that, and had been for about three innings when, mid-pitch he stopped, and turned to the umpire and said, "They're about to play the National Anthem on the field behind us." With that, he turned, removed his cap and waited while the rest of the adults and children on the field followed suit.

There was a tournament game about to begin on the field next to ours, and they were doing it up big. As the music began and the late Whitney Houston's voice echoed off of the hills that surrounded us, "Oh say can you see..." the crowd at our game looked about with uncertainty. I debated long whether to stand, no one else around me was moving. After all, we'd already begun our game and the song wasn't for us, it was on the other field. But there stood Kate's coach, back to the batter, face toward the flag in the distance.

Yet, I debated and shame on me for it. I didn't want to feel odd among a group of parents I'd been enjoying getting to know during this ball season. It's tricky to fit into a group sometimes and I didn't want to make anyone feel awkward. But then I thought, you know what else it's tricky to do?

It's tricky I'll bet, to leave your family and go to a strange land with no promise of returning whole, or even alive. It's tricky I'll bet to be the family of a soldier who must adjust to life without him while he's gone and then must adjust to life with the slightly or completely different soldier who returns home. I'll bet it's also pretty tricky as a member of a military family to keep your head when folks use the freedom for which your family in particular has sacrificed, to choose not to stand when your country is being honored at a simple baseball game. Tricky.

So, I stood. Alone...for a moment and then I motioned for Meg to stand too. I checked the dugout to make sure that Kate was also on her feet. I need not have worried. Those little girls had followed their leader and were flag-facing, way before I had been. Soon, everyone was on their feet and all felt right and proper. The song ended, we took our seats, and our game continued.

Today, my family headed a short distance down our street to watch a half-marathon being run and my Man said, "Remember last year, the guy who ran with that huge flag?" I didn't remember, but today I got a second chance to see him. "Here he comes!" said my Man, leaning to see.

He came running hard underneath a huge flag. Running almost 13 miles with a huge flag. Running up large hills with a huge flag, in humid 90 degree temperatures with a huge flag, running under the burden of that heavy flag.

That very same flag that I wasn't even sure I was going to stand up for just a few nights earlier. 

I was standing when this flag went by...and cheering...

...and next time the National Anthem is played...

...I'll be quickly to my feet.

"I have long believed that sacrifice is the pinnacle of patriotism."
~Bob Riley

"The greatest glory of a free-born people is to transmit that freedom to their children."
~William Harvard

Happy Memorial Day !

1 comment:

G'ma suz said...

Wonderful ! Your Grandpa also would be extremely proud of your actions (even if a bit delayed).
Thank you ! Love , Mom

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