HANG OUT THE FLAG by Rabbi Baruch Cohon


Whatever day of the week it is, July 4th is American Independence Day.  We all know that.  Past years’ celebrations have featured fireworks, military parades and lots of public figures making pompous political pronouncements.  What will July 4th, 2020 be like?

Among other conditions, the 4th occurs on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.  So if you are observant, should you show the flag? 

2020 is a year of racial and political unrest.  If you pulled down a statue of Washington or Jefferson, do you want to show the flag?

With your neighbors on lockdown, stores and restaurants closed and your city terrified of Covid-19, will anyone see your flag if you do show it?

Think a minute.  What does that flag mean anyway? Being so familiar, it could be taken for granted.  The three classic colors, for example: red, white and blue.  Fiery red for courage, pure white for truth, solid blue for justice – even-handed justice to all the 50 stars on that blue sky and to all those who live there. Do those colors truly symbolize our country’s qualities in 2020?  The 13 bright stripes still represent the original colonies that declared independence and defeated the most powerful of empires to achieve it. Can you relate to that struggle of 244 years ago? And those 50 tiny stars.  Which star is for your home state?

Does any of this mean anything to you?

Fellow citizen, it does.  Whether or not you realize it and admit it, that 3-colored piece of cloth is our message, yours and mine.  For all the many different backgrounds we bring with us, for all the competing causes we value, for all of our contrasting appearances and occupations and philosophies, we have a common message: Accept my freedom.  I treasure that freedom and I will keep it because I make my home in the United States of America.

If I must face danger, my courage has to be as blood-red as those stripes.  If my honesty is challenged, I hope to reach the level of colorless white.  And if a business or family problem tests my standards, even risking personal loss, let justice prevail.

It’s worth bearing witness this 4th of July.  Hang out a flag.

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