Follow the flag
CADETS AND OFFICERS form a procession as they return the session flag to the training college.
BY COLONEL ESTHER SATHER –
I have been made aware these last months of the renewed emphasis of honoring our American flag.
All of us have needed some way to express our patriotism. Over New Years, it was quite wonderful to see that when the national anthem was sung at the bowl games, we also had “God Bless America.” Even more wonderful was to hear them sung “straight”! To a musician, this is a gift! No meandering, wandering around the scales, no rifts or originality, just the right notes. The flags now seem bigger, flown higher, and evident in places never seen before. The flag has again become respectable and we feel ownership as Americans.
With my husband, Colonel Donald Sather, I recently journeyed to East Africa, the country of Tanzania. We were to participate in the Commissioning week–their very first session of cadets. It was quite an experience for all of us. It was their first territorial weekend as an independent command. A first for Lt. Colonels David and Jean Burrows as Officers Commanding, as well as for Training Principal Major Linda Manhardt. It was their first session of cadets to be ordained and commissioned.
The command was learning about its own flag, which had been presented by the General. The cadets had learned about their session flag. There was great pride in their sense of identity and community as a session, the Crossbearers. They were learning, as well, what it meant to follow the flag of The Salvation Army.
When the cadets were commissioned and sent to their first appointment, Major Burrows told me that for two of the cadet couples it would be at least a six hour walk to get water. That is quite a commitment to follow the flag.
For many of the cadets, leaving their village and tribal culture to come to the training college meant giving their children to the care of grandparents or relatives with the possibility of the children being taught the old ways, which they now were made aware was not God’s way. That is quite a commitment to follow the flag.
For these new officers, it would not be unusual to have to go into the forest, cut down small trees, make mud bricks to build a mud hut to live in with no running water or electricity; that is quite a commitment to follow a flag.
On the Monday morning following the Commissioning weekend, there was a special event I had not seen before. It evidently is a British tradition. We were in Officers Councils with the area officers. When the meeting was finished, Major Burrows called the new captain who had been the flag bearer for the session to come and get the flag of the Crossbearers Session and follow him. We were instructed to get in line and follow the flag. It is important to take the session flag and march it back to the training college, put it in its proper place for posterity.
Forevermore, this session of cadets can come back to the college, find their flag and remember what being a part of the Crossbearers Session meant. All of us got in place, marched in one line, dusty and rocky on the path, and followed the flag!
Do you know it gave me just as many goose bumps in East Africa as it does here at home? We were an Army. We had a flag to follow. We were committed to the meaning of the flag. We would give it our very best!
I think that is what is going on here at home as well. We are a country together with a common purpose . . .
“One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Amen and amen.