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Thank God that in our  land the flag waves freely

Whenever I go jogging around the streets of Ogdensburg, I check out two landmarks in the city:  the flag flying outside the Fire Department building and the one waving outside the City Police Department.  They give me an idea about the wind speed and direction to see how much energy I’m going to need to muster up running against the wind, especially in the winter. 

One day, as I was out pounding the pavement, I began to notice how often those two flags were flying at half-mast rather than hoisted to the top of the pole.  Particularly since that fateful day of September 11, 2001, I thought how much the weight of the whole world has tugged that tri-colored fabric from the full height of its soaring place to that half way mark to the ground.

For just a moment let us reflect on those two positions on the flag pole. 

The flag at half-mast means something has happened.  Someone who has helped to keep the flag soaring in the skies has fallen…leader, firefighter, EMT, rescuer, soldier, sailor, Marine, policeman or woman, heroes all. 
Each gave the ultimate to keep the stars and stripes in their rightful perch atop the pole.  The wrenching loss felt by all who are good, by family, neighbor, friend, and fellow citizen, tugs at the heart and pulls our nation’s banner’s precious weight downward. Yet, as the burden and weight seem so overwhelming, we know that the pull earthward is ever so fleeting. The flag never remains in that state of limbo, wavering between heaven and earth.  No, it inevitably returns to its rightful loft.  The wounded eagle eventually rises.  Goodness wins.  The hearts and souls of a Godly nation once again pull the patriotic cloth to the heavens, soaring in the skies, never, never to be pinned down.   Yes, ours is a nation called to be forever Godly! Yet, the wound must be acknowledged.  The hurt must heal.

Gatherings such as this being held throughout our vast land today provide a balm for us all.  When all is said and done, goodness always wins. Yes, at times we feel the weight of the world on our nation’s shoulders. At times, the weight of the world of a particular family is laid upon the shoulders of those who seek to rescue and save their loved ones.  And, because the weight continues to impress itself upon us, we remember.

As we remember, we do so not without hope because ours is a God who does not forsake or forget. Ten years ago we were brutally invaded, a certain innocence was lost and more than 3,000 souls perished.  Yet, because of hearts strong and brave, 20,000 lives were saved in the midst of that holocaust. Loaded with safety gear from Station #’s too many to count, Ground Zero became the hallowed grave site of heroes and heroines. Their ultimate sacrifice inspire our moms and dads, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles who today serve us in our communities at home and others serving in harm’s way in distant lands all too familiar to our brave military women and men.

A reflection on the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2011 terror attacks

Ten years ago, we suffered brutal terrorist attacks on New York, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  A dagger was thrust our way.  Our pulse has never been stronger.  As we gather today and remember, let us take note of the stars and stripes and all that they symbolize, particularly the blood, sweat and tears that have become stitched into the very fabric of the banner. Take note from where on the pole it hangs. Thank God that in our land the flag waves freely.

As we continue to struggle with the immense pain inflicted upon so many innocent people, with the horrific event etched into our minds and hearts, we seek healing and understanding. We pray, Lord, Thy Kingdom Come where terror and violence no longer break hearts. Whether the flag’s at half-mast or in the height of flight, we have so very much for which we must thank our Lord.

God Bless America.
(Bishop LaValley’s reflection on the 9/11 Commemoration will be delivered at Library Park, Ogdensburg, Sept. 11, 2011)

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