Thursday, May 27, 2010
By the Dawn's Early Light.
A flag that bore witness to the growing pains of a great nation.
I found myself there with my youngest son on an adventure of sorts-part birthday trip, part history lesson, part expedition into self-discovery. We made the two hour trip to Manassas, Virginia the night before. We dined on his favorite cuisine of lasagna at the Olive Garden.
We drove to Fairfax the next morning and hopped the metrorail for downtown Washington D.C. The Smithsonian Institution, these museums which have captivated Thomas for several months now, served as our ultimate destination.
We walked to the Air and Space Museum first and wandered its floors, taking time to watch an imax film about black holes. Next we walked across the mall to the Natural History Museum and finally finished at the Museum of American History.
This final stop housed the famous flag.
I felt drawn to it; compelled to inspect every inch of its antique edges looking for history in the decaying fibers. I thought about Mr. Key and the emotions of that day so many years ago. I thought about the blood spilled by real people with real feelings just like me.
Mostly, I contemplated where faith fit into it all.
As we left the doors near closing time, the ironic juxtaposition was stark. A natural history museum whose inner walls honored the Darwinian theory of evolution stood next door to the American museum, honoring a country forged by settlers who mostly believed in something altogether different.
We walked out to the grassy mall with the Capitol building in clear view to the west, and the more obscure Lincoln Memorial on the east horizon. We stood in the middle of arguably the most powerful place in the entire world. Two competing world views consumed the ground around us.
And suddenly, I remembered a few, lesser known words from the last verse of Key’s poem I had read inside the museum a few minutes earlier: “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’ "
I wondered hard.
Do we really?
And even harder...