Every day at around 5 p.m., on U.S. military posts and bases all over the world, the world stops. Only for a moment does time stand still, but there is a sound - sometimes a cannon shot, sometimes a bugle call - a sound that invites all who are within hearing range to stop and take note. A sound that invites the listener to contemplate the event taking place over at the flag pole. The sound... of Colors.
A song is played as the flag is lowered down to waiting hands of the Honor Guard members. Just moments before, the men and women of the honor guard stood at attention, waiting, watching for the flag to flutter down within their reach. Their job is to catch its leading edge; pass it from hand to hand to keep the cloth from touching the ground; fold it with care and reverence.
Certainly not everyone on a base can see these events taking place, but they know from training that the flag is being lowered down. Mamas and Papas who have endured the hard demands of basic training later teach their children that there is meaning to that symbol - the flag of their country. I imagine that those freedom-fighters in other countries have similar rituals and feelings about their countries' symbols, but this flag - the Stars and Bars, the Red, White, and Blue - is from my country. And I am proud of what we've done to help others.
So just as the children on base hear the call and fall silent, right hand crossing their breasts to lay over their hearts, and military members in uniform raise their hands to salute in the direction of the bugle call, I stop. I listen. I recall the sacrifices made by brave men (and now women) for my country, and for the needs of other countries. And I am grateful for the blessings that I have from being here; grateful for having the reminder each day to stop and remember and honor something that is greater than my simple, individual contribution.
And once the bugle falls silent, and the 3 year-old runs off to catch a firefly, the 10 year-old races for his swing and the cries of "Not it!" ring once again through the air, I give a little prayer of thanks for my blessings and for those who went before me to fight the battles of war, and pray for those enduring such hardship now.
God's blessings to the fighting men and women and their families of the United States Military as the people of our nation celebrate independence!