After a devastating tornado turned Moore, Oklahoma upside down, many residents continue to fly their American flags as a symbol of hope.
Over 2,400 homes were damaged or demolished and 24 deaths occurred in the powerful EF4 tornado that ravaged through Moore, Oklahoma on Monday, May 20th. Stunned residents searched through piles and mounds of debris, the only thing that was left of their homes and possessions. People are coming together and offering food and help without payment, refusing to gain from such loss.
Through all the rubble and heartache, one thing stands out: the American flag. Over the past week, many photos of American flags have been taken. In many neighborhoods throughout Moore, American flags have been sprouting up. Some beat up from the storm, some mounted on make-shift poles, hanging from trees, or on cars. All symbolizing the unity we share and bringing hope to those who need it most. These people have lost everything, even loved ones, but the patriotism and hope compelled some to fly the flag, even if they didn’t have a pole to fly it on.
Kevin Gibson came to what was left of his house and immediately raised his flag on a temporary flagpole. It seemed to brighten the neighborhood. “It means we are still united, whatever happens,” he said. Gibson remembers people started clapping and yelling: “Yes, sir! Raise that flag!”
The red, white, and blue shining through the brown dirt and debris is striking. Chris DeWitt, who lived in a neighborhood ravaged by the storm, was quoted saying, “it represents our spirit as Oklahomans and Americans. We’re here, we’re proud, and we’ll be back.”
In front of the ruined house of resident Jerry Woods are 13 small American flags and a message painted in black on a remaining wall that read, ‘Thank You Jerry U Saved My Family Lives.’ Woods is a disabled Vietnam Veteran who sheltered a total of 22 people and three pets in a small shelter meant to fit 12 people. “It’s what we do as Americans,” he said. “The American flags here are what we do. It’s times like this when people pull together.”
Caleb Martin found a flag that had blown from an unknown residence in poor condition on top of his mother’s roof. He climbed up to go and get the flag, folded it, and is now safely holding it until he can give it to a Boy Scout troop where they can properly burn the flag ceremoniously.
Tragedies like this are a shining example of what our flag is about. It’s about hope, perseverance, unity, and the will to fight on.