Why I like flag raising, even at church

There were precisely two occasions per year when I would witness flag raising ceremonies as a child, both of which took place at my church: the Fourth of July and Pioneer Day. Perhaps I am an outlier in this community, but I liked and still like the symbolism of hoisting the US flag on those occasions. In this post, I will not address the more contentious topics of whether we should tie patriotism to church worship or raise the flag on Pioneer Day (that was already well debated here on July 4); instead I will just explain why I find the ritual of flag raising a spiritually moving experience.

Flag raising is to me a ritual that both transcends and is embodied in a temporal moment. As we go through the procession of raising the flag each year, I find comfort in how the ritual symbolically establishes our continuity with the past and certain shared values. The ritual process is restricted in that certain procedures ought to be followed; but these restrictions also give me comfort by reminding me that our progress as individuals and as a society often depends on our willingness to abide by principles and laws. As I grow old enough to look back upon former ideas I held and to recognize that they were sometimes misguided, I see more and more value in knowing that there is a great deal of momentum behind certain core beliefs and procedures that would take a great deal more than whims to change.

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