These colors don’t run
This Spring began a historical visitation for me. Not just because I descend from an illustrious military family, but the awe that I experienced of the God-ordained “Great Experiment” called the United States of America.
I was standing on top of Bunker Hill, which overlooks the historical section of Boston, trying to imagine the events as described by Mr. John Adams (2nd President of the United States) to the Continental Congress convening in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, as penned by his wife Abigail Adams from high ground located in Braintree Massachusetts. According to these reliable words…
“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong–but the God of Israel is He who giveth strength and power unto His people. Trust in Him at all times ye people pour out our hearts before Him. God is a refuge for us.–Charlestown is laid to ashes. The Battle began upon our intrenchments upon Bunker Hill, a Saturday morning about 3 o’clock…”
The Brittish attack commencing on June 17th 1775 occurred at an hour which mocks Christ, by an army represented by the King who had violated Scriptural Principles against the colonies (now become States), and the sword of the Righteous had been drawn to thwart those whose goal was oppression. Abigail continued her report as to the friends fallen and the fact the battle extended late Sunday evening. When the smoke cleared—The Massachusetts Colonial Militia had held the high ground. This engagement precipitated the formal authority to form the Continental Army and the high command offered to General George Washington. It was said of the Minute Men two things: They were outnumbered by trained professional soldiers and they pursued the Brittish with ungentlemanly haste. At that moment I thought about the dynamic between the individual States that a Virginian would lead New England men, coordinate Vermonters and New Yorkers to secure important harbors, and mediate with the Congress to obtain supplies and organize the forces to defeat the enemy. When you consider the role Virginia played in the war between the states, it is a remarkable but divine move of the hand of God. This idea is reflected by the “Pine Tree” Flag, which is also called the George Washington Flag–upon which it is written “An Appeal to Heaven”.
On 14 June 1777 the Continental Congress passed the “Flag Act”, which set the standard that we see in the National Ensign today. The sentiment of the Gadsden Flag “Don’t Tread On Me” is woven into the fabric in remembrance of the coming together of the thirteen colonies and codified by the words written by Francis Scott Key–the Star-Spangled Banner. The poem about the colors surviving the British Bombardment at Fort McHenry, which was put to music and became our National Anthem. The flags flown during the bombardment were the famous gigantic Garrison Flag, the smaller Storm Flag and the little known 8′ x 5′ National Ensign that was found during renovations on Fort McHenry and hidden behind bricks of the fortifications. The Garrison Flag was hauled up at first light and was the flag of which he wrote. The idea being destroy me NEVER.
By 1836 the armies of every foreign nation were driven from the continent by bayonet point and the nations of the world learned that these colors do not run. America stood resolute, even when divided by a line that separated slave states in the south called the Mason-Dixon Line.We survived as a Christian Nation—a “Republic for which we stand, one nation under God…” and the work Great Experiment has marched down the corridor of time in the defense of freedom and democracy of the peoples of the earth.
I was standing at Arlington Cemetery, as I happened on a funeral service for a Marine Officer. Though this was a solemn occasion, it was one steeped in tradition. Upon the conclusion of the ceremony, I asked the family about the service of their loved one. He had served in the Pacific Theater of Operations in the Island hopping campaign that was encapsulated by the famous photograph of the flag placement on Iwo Jima high atop Mount Suribachi. The acclaim received by Mr. Joe Rosenthal was as result of the spark which ignited the flame in the heart of every American that these colors do not run. Looking at my surroundings, I commented “Yes. The price of freedom is very high indeed.”
There are forgotten verses of our National Anthem, which tie together the concepts of sacrifice, honor, and the blessings of Almighty God upon this Great Experiment called America. My attention has often been called to this particular verse:
O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when the cause is just,
And this be our motto–“In God we trust,”
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
….And these colors do not run.
Let this be our benediction also:
‘Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them:
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.’
Finding Faith columns are written by local pastors. This column was written by Rev. Dr. Bryon Reynolds, pastor the Charlton Chapel-Lighthouse Ministry.