Fr. Peter J. Daly
June 21, 2004
Scouts stepped out in ragged formation. They carried four flags to be raised in
our parish Flag Day observance on the big new poles in front of our parish
The senior scout commanded the scout detail in a near whisper. “Scouts forward, ” he breathed nervously. When they got to their position he said “Scouts halt.” Not everybody heard him. The rear of the column continued marching after the front had stopped so they piled up like cars in a highway accident. I bit my lip to keep from smiling.
The Knights of Columbus snapped to attention in their plumed hats, capes and swords. One little boy asked, “What those pirates doing here?”
The Scouts stood at attention the way 11 year old boys do; faces serious, shoulders back, and tummies out. Their shirttails were untucked and a few shoes were untied. But their mothers snapped pictures like paparazzi at a film premier.
The Scout commander called the boys
forward in pairs to the big planter box containing the flagpoles. Each pair
raised a flag. First the
We tried singing the National Anthem by following a CD of a country music singer. But she was too slow and took off into the stratosphere at the high notes. She didn’t sing it like we do at baseball games. Part way through I motioned to the scoutmaster’s wife to kill the boom box. We did better acappella.
Then we said the Pledge of Allegiance. That very day, the Supreme Court had refused to hear the case challenging the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. I noticed our congregation said “under God” with special emphasis. No matter what the Supreme Court hd said that day, we were saying “under God.”
At the raising of the
We raised the
Finally we raised our County flag. It has a big green tobacco leaf on a background of gold and black checks.
When our county was founded in the 1600s its economy was based on tobacco. Today we know that tobacco is bad for you. Many of our county public schools do not display the flag out of fear it might encourage kids to smoke. Go figure.
We couldn’t think of anything to say or sing
for the county flag, so I just said, “Let’s eat.” They liked that better than
The men of the parish had made hot dogs, beans, and a big six-foot long sub sandwich. It was a real “men’s club” meal: carbohydrates, grease, and condiments. In parish life you never do anything without eating.
Anybody who thinks patriotism and reverence are things of the past is not part of small town parish life. It was a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting. I loved it.