ENID, Okla. — The scenes are becoming all too tragically familiar.
Volunteers pick through the scattered bones of a family’s home, clearing debris, occasionally stopping and holding up a child’s toy, a tattered photograph, a miraculously unbroken dish.
Storms have ravaged our state this spring, spawning devastating tornadoes and creating calamitous floods.
In the wake of the wild weather, the worlds of hundreds of people have been shattered, their lives scattered to the four winds.
Many of the familiar photos of the cleanup and recovery efforts in the wake of the tornadoes that scoured the areas around Shawnee, Moore and El Reno last month, seem to contain a common element — an American flag.
The flag, often tattered from the storm, hangs near the rubble of a home, the dented, pockmarked hulk of a family car and the debris-strewn front yard, its supporting pole stuck into the damp ground or lashed to a broken fence post or simply stuck into a crack in what is left of the house.
The flag represents defiance in the face of destruction, life in the presence of death and hope in times of desperation.
To Americans, the flag is more than simply a symbol of our nation.
Our national anthem is all about our flag, and how it stood above the chaos of the siege of Fort McHenry in 1814.
American troops have carried the flag into battle the world over, held aloft by hand, rippling in the breeze above the deck of a ship, worn on the uniforms of soldiers and Marines or painted on the side of a combat aircraft.
When the man carrying the flag into battle falls, someone else picks up the banner and presses on.
The photograph of the flag being hoisted atop Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima is one of the most iconic ever taken.
The flag flies over ballparks, stadiums, arenas, government buildings, military facilities, banks, schools and businesses across the country, not to mention hanging in front of millions of our homes.
Our flag flies on the moon, standing out straight and stiff in the absence of wind thanks to a specially designed horizontal pole.
The U.S. flag adorns shirts, dresses, hats, neckties, boots, holiday ornaments, mail boxes, lapel pins, dinner ware, hot air balloons and dog collars, among others.
The flag also is a subject for tattoo artists and those adept at applying fancy fingernail polish.
Our flag is a symbol of hope in times of tribulation. It represents pride in this great nation
The flag is a symbol of defiance. It says “We are proud Americans and we are not going to take any crap off anybody.” Our flag dips to no leader, foreign or domestic, and flies above the banners of every other nation.
There’s nothing quite like traveling to a foreign land, several time zones from home, and seeing the flag flying over the U.S. Embassy. It sends a shiver of pride up your spine.
Our flag represents freedom and independence, a can-do, will-do, never-say-die, give-em-hell spirit, a sense of pride of place and of our place in the world’s history. And if anybody, anywhere, needs help, we’ll be there, and we’ll bring our flag with us.
We fly our flag, we salute it, we treat it with respect and reverence. And on forlorn fields, in battered cities and on storm-tossed oceans across the globe, American men and women have died for our flag.
And when those who have worn our nation’s uniform pass on, our flag adorns their caskets.
Today is Flag Day. It’s not a holiday, but it has been officially recognized by Congress since August 1949. But, in truth, for Americans, every day should be flag day.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at email@example.com.