Blanketed by the security of the flag

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 5, 2002

A cool breeze, an oddity for this time of year, settled around the crowd. The muffled sound of a child's laughter tried to erase the severity of the occasion. Families from near and far gathered around the parking lot in the bright sun of Sunday morning, holding tight to the courage needed to say good-bye father, son and husband as Florala's division of the National Guard Army prepared to depart for "locations unknown."

As part of President Bush's initiative to defend the United States against the

War on Terrorism, the dedicated men and women of all divisions of the armed forces will do their part to protect their homeland against any type of assault our enemy may see fit to evoke upon us. It seems Florala is no different. Pretty soon we may be hearing more stories of soldiers departing for unknown locations in some far off place. While it may be difficult to see them go, we can comfort ourselves with the fact that they are defending our future.

Row upon row of green, brown and black stand at attention as the good reverend prepares families for the trials they may face while their loved ones are gone.

The only sound over the smooth voice of the reverend is the American flag snapping in the breeze. Waving high above the crowd, it is the proud sign of what we, as Americans, have lived and died for, freedom.

To me, the colors of the flag represent all we have sacrificed in the name of freedom.

Red for all the blood spilt on the battlefield.

White for the innocence lost when children are forced to become adults in the defense of our nation.

Blue for the valor of those who have lost their lives in the pursuit of such a worthwhile cause.

The stars on a blanket of blue will shine down upon the loved ones left behind by those who fought so bravely to defend our homeland.

We must comfort ourselves in these trying times with the thought of freedom. Taken for granted, it is the one thing that we have as a defense against those who would seek to destroy our great nation.

We should hold it close to ourselves as a blanket against these terror-filled times. It is also a blanket our soldiers will gather close to them, shielding them from all that they may face and comforting them with the knowledge that they are assuring the future that they may know the warmth of independence.

Amidst the tears and heartfelt good-byes, the bus slowly filled with heavy hearts and choked throats, and before you could blink, they were out of sight and on their way. Their journey had begun. Time will only tell how far they will travel, but I hope it will end where it has begun-- home.