This morning as I drove my kids to school, I saw a flag flying from an apartment balcony across from their school. The tricolored bands of red, white and black with a gold eagle stamped in the center flapped vivid colors into the early-morning grey of this wintry day.
"Hey, look. Is that an Egyptian flag," I asked. My eight year-old daughter did a quick Google search on my phone, and confirmed my guess.
And in that moment, I got it.
The apartment complex where that flag was flying is not exactly a high-rent place. In fact, it has a reputation as a pretty rough place. But there flew that flag. My hunch is that some immigrants from Egypt live there. Maybe multiple generations crowded together. I bet someone (or some ones) in that apartment works hard at a low-paying job to cover the rent. And I bet they're keeping a close eye on the TV these days, watching a revolution unfold in the old country.
I got it. All of a sudden, I knew something of what Francis Scott Key felt like when he scribbled lines about a star-spangled banner he could see across the Baltimore Harbor. I could feel something of Dr. King's vision from the mountaintop where he saw little children of all colors playing together.
I admit, I sometimes get a little nervous when people talk about reverence for a flag. Part of my says, "Yeah, but it's just material stitched together." And it is. But those stitched-together parts can be powerful symbols of freedom, of hope, and of people.