She’s a Grand Ol’ Flag!

Does your heart beat true for the red, white, and blue?

Dr. Steven J. Callis

It was not a Broadway hit, but I was on stage at the age of 6.  The first grade classes at Fairview Elementary School were combined to present a special patriotic play for all the parents.  There were cowboys and cowgirls, flags and music, lots of fanfare – it was a rodeo scene, and I was a clown.

Three of us were chosen to be clowns for the play.  I hesitate to admit it, but I was the saddest of clowns!  I did not mind the face painting, though it did not thrill me to be wearing makeup.  The funny hat was okay, I suppose, and the baggy clothes and mismatched socks were tolerable.  My mom worked hard to help me look like a clown.

But for whatever reason, I decided to draw a line when it came to the shoes. After only 5 years of life, my experience with clowns was minimal.  I did not realize shoes were such a big deal for a rodeo clown, but apparently…well, my mom’s designer clown outfit included my oldest brother’s tennis shoes.  He was a seventh grader, and as it turns out, clowns are supposed to wear shoes that are too big for their feet.

I remember the fuss, but I do not recall why I decided to “put my foot down” at that point. Maybe it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.  The entire clown suit was too large for me, I felt conspicuous, and I did not want to fall down walking in these clown shoes.  And the craziest part of it – I was afraid people would laugh at me (yes, I know, that was the point, but I was 6)!

Well, mom won out, and of course, I was cute as a button. Proudly, I still have the 8×10 black and white photo of Tim, Alan, and me.

The grand finale of the play brought the house down. Most of the rodeo players were stretched across the stage in 3 lines with space between each line.  The remaining players marched back and forth across the stage carrying American flags between the lines of students as the music blared, “You’re a grand ol’ flag, you’re a high flying flag, and forever in peace may you wave.  You’re the emblem of the land I love; the home of the free and the brave.”

While there are significant concerns across our nation politically, socially, economically, spiritually, and environmentally, the key has always been our ability to put the good of the nation above personal self-interests. We must be able to sing with deep conviction, “every heart beats true for the red, white, and blue.”  I’ll never forget how that song brought a room full of parents to their feet with pride for their children and for their nation.


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