Old Glory…our American Flag.
The Captain and I rode out the storm on the East coast when we were ordered to evacuate the west coast.
We knew going north out of Florida would not only be a slow process, but the thought of running out of gas, stalled on the interstate with Irma behind us and moving up the state… was not an option in our minds.
So we went across the state, no traffic and plenty of gas in our tank for a 2 hour trip.
There was still the wrath of Irma’s outer bands to contend with, but we felt we would fare better in a sturdy, commercial hotel room, 3 floors up.
At our hotel, Old Glory, just outside our window, stretched out to it’s full splendor in the 80-100 mph winds as palm trees waved to and fro.
At times, it looked as if the trees would bow over and snap at their resistance.
We watched as the blue field of stars literally ripped out of the upper corner of the flag, by a violent gust of wind, ….almost as if someone carefully cut out that section of the flag leaving the rest intact.
It saddened us that no one had taken the time to take the flag down.
The Captain talked to the hotel desk earlier in the day and they said they would take care of it.
But as you can see…as the evening wore on, the flag was in tatters and had not been removed. 🙁
Then about 8 pm, we lost electricity at the hotel with tornadoes spawned by the outer bands of the hurricane, popping up all around us.
The rain lashed at our window, torrential, unforgiving.
The wind swirled and gusted making little eddies in the water collecting in the parking lot.
It seemed Hurricane Irma was saying…you can’t get away from me.
The evening grew even darker producing ominous dark gray clouds.
The only light, other than an occasional text lighting up the cell phone, was from the window with an occasional flash of lightning off in the distance.
The illumination was not from the usual zig-zag bolt of lightning…but more like a bright light blanketing the shapes of the trees, parked cars and of course, the flag pole.
The flickering flash would disappear as quickly as it had come…and the inky night sky would again settle back in with an eerie silence.
And the game of musical chairs would start all over again.
Dark, Stormy, Wind gusts and Rain falling in torrents.
The Captain and I drifted off to sleep sometime in the early morning hours, mentally exhausted, knowing our fate was in God’s capable hands.
The next morning, as the sun peeked in our room, I rushed to the window…the first thing I saw was Old Glory….and the splintered tree beneath it.
The tattered stripes of the flag hung limply, the blue outer rim of the 50 stars field nothing but a faint memory. The flag looked tired, worn out from the previous nights watch during the hurricane.
It saddened me, while instilling a sense of pride that no matter the winds….Old Glory, our flag, although not in it’s entirety…still stood defiantly!
I stood mesmerized by the flag’s slight lift when a coastal breeze allowed for a bit of a flutter of what remained of Old Glory.
My thoughts drifted back to a long time ago. I couldn’t help but think of Francis Scott Key, the poet….as he looked at the flag still flying after battle.
In the war of 1812,… during the battle of Fort McHenry, he was inspired to write the beautiful poem which became “The Star Spangled Banner”. “ The morning after the bombardment, he scribbled the initial verse of his song on the back of a letter.
…….“And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”
We prepared to leave the hotel and drive across the state to see if our home was still standing after the hurricane ripped through SW Florida.
Just before getting into our truck, I looked over at the flag pole and took one last picture.
I said a silent prayer, thanking God for getting us through the night and asked for traveling mercies for the ride home.
I suddenly felt a bit of energy, ready for whatever lay before us.
As we pulled out of the hotel parking lot, I noticed a long convoy of electrical trucks preparing for dispatch.
I said a special thanks to all the first responders who came to Florida to help rebuild.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
God Bless Florida. God Bless America!