See this oil painting “Americana” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse video), or view the longer version in the 4th of July show. This painting features an American flag painted on a barn, as a dog waits for his owner to come home. A yellow ribbon on the tree is a tradition to show support when a loved one is in the military during times of war. The happiest days are when a veteran returns home and the ribbons are off the trees.
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My oil painting is of a roadside American flag on the only way to/from Tybee Island, Georgia. Police officers rescued it from hurricane flood waters because they knew how much it would mean to evacuees to see it when they returned, not knowing if they still had a house left, but always a home.
One’s homeland flag means something different to each individual, but for many it is a very powerful symbol that captures how our hearts feel about the health, safety, and prosperity of our homeland, and especially the well being of those people we love. My grandfather was a decorated World War II veteran. My father served two tours in the Vietnam War, then died from cancer when he was thirty-seven years old. My husband served in the Army, patrolling the E/W German border shortly before the fall of the wall, and then shortly afterward. Then he was deployed to Iraq. All three of these men believed that they were fighting against evil, communism or dictatorship, and tyranny “over there”, so that these oppressive, enslaving, and abhorrent regimes wouldn’t take over HERE. But of course, lust for power respects no boundaries, and it was our own government who is/was involved in so many horrible things.
They gave my mom a folded American flag at Dad’s memorial service. When people destroy or protest the flag, it feels like a desecration of not just a flag, but of a grave, regardless of the intentions behind the statement. It is something I feel deeply, as do many other people. I paint the flag often, not because I am loyal to politicians or to a fantasy belief in a perfect nation, but because I am grateful for the ground beneath my feet and the people who came before me. I wish the same for all persons, everywhere in the world. I’ve lived in Germany and in Ireland, and when I lived in those lands, I respected the flags of my temporary homes. I loved those people and places too. I wanted to belong, and to be part of the community in which I lived. I believe I could feel this way wherever God plants me.
It was so wonderful to be with the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, when so many had the Irish flag painted on their faces and waved it proudly. Never did I feel as if anyone was “superior”, but merely happy and celebratory. There was a kinship with everyone at the parade that day, as if for a few moments we were family. This is what it means to feel the warmth of a nation’s flag.
I’ve never met a veteran who served to defend politicians, governments, agendas, or causes (not directly or primarily). They all have said the same: they do it for those they love, for those at home. They believe that their homeland is meant to be safe and free for the children of the future. And they believe so strongly in the sovereignty of humanity that they’ll defend it with their lives. For this, we honor them.
Whatever deception has led to wars for profit, crimes against humanity, and great evil, is not the burden of those who simply yearn to be free, and want to protect their homelands, communities, and families. It is my wish that all wars would end, and no one would ever again receive a memorial folded flag. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if instead, all flags in all sovereign nations were merely celebratory colors, clutched in the tiny joyful hands of children to wave at parades? What a wonderful world that would be.