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The Flag

“There’s never been anything interesting in our house,” Kelly complained.  “A farmhouse that’s almost two hundred and fifty years old and—nothing! No secret hiding places, no tunnels, no panels that move—nothing!”

Her new friend and neighbor, Abby, glanced up from the old diary she was reading. “I know but listen to this….”

Abby had dark hair, perpetually in pigtails. If she were wearing a colonial dress, she could pass for her distant ancestor. Since she had moved in next door to Kelly, she and her grandmother had been going through trunks of old diaries and letters.

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It turned out that the girls’ distant grandmothers had been best friends, living right in these very houses back in the 1700’s. By the time they grew up, the American Revolution had started.

“Here’s more about Abigail and Mary Ellen.”

Abigail’s husband had been a spy for the Americans and Mary Ellen actually went with her husband to war, as many women did back then, some as nurses, some to cook and help out in any way they could.

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“Oh, Kelly, listen to this! Your distant grandfather died early in war.”

Brent came in the screen door just then, to tell Kelly to come home to lunch.

“Wait a second! I have to hear this!” she told him.

“What is it?” asked Brent.

“It’s about our distant grandparents—Mary Ellen and Jack. He was a flag bearer.”

“That was an important job,” said Brent.

Abby interrupted with a rustle of the diary pages. She read….

“I’m so sorry for my dear friend but she was so brave. When Jack was shot, Mary Ellen dragged him to safety. But she dared not wait for the medic. She went back for the flag. The regiment was in disarray, but seeing the flag, they were able to know where to go and get their orders. The flag is heavy, but she held it up throughout and the tide turned and the enemy fled. I believe that Commander Richards gave her the flag. She may even get a medal—not too many women do.  We’ll all miss Jack so much. Mary Ellen’s on her way home.”

“I read that they sometimes did give the flags and banners to soldier’s families,” said Brent.

“But we’ve never heard anything about a flag. All we have is a few old dishes and a cookbook that’s falling apart,” said Kelly.

“There’s more here in Abigail’s diary. She says the flag was pretty ragged when Mary Ellen brought it home. She put it away in a safe place.”

“In a safe place?” Kelly was perplexed, as she headed out the door with Brent.

“I’ll let you know if there’s any more info here,” said Abby.

“And Abby,” Brent stopped and said, sympathetically, “I’m really, really sorry about your cousin.”

“Thanks,” the girl said sadly. “I’m going to ride in the parade. It’s going to be a memorial for him and the others in his battalion.”

Kelly nodded. They would all be going to the parade on Memorial Day weekend.

At home, as they ate sandwiches and strawberries, Kelly was brimming over with news about the old flag. But first she told Mom about the parade.

Her little red haired sister was sitting on her stool listening as she ate her lunch. Dani bounced excitedly at the thought of a parade, but she had no comprehension of what it was all about.

“Abby’s really sad, but this will make her feel a little better to have a part in the Memorial Day celebration. I think she went back to the old letters and things in the trunk just to get her mind off it all for a while.”

Steve, Abby’s cousin had just been killed in Afghanistan, along with several of his buddies.

“I would think all that stuff about what happened back in the Revolution would have made her feel worse,” said Mom.

“No, Mary Ellen was a hero. It made her feel good to read it. Jack died because a medic couldn’t get to him in time—but if the flag was down, the soldiers couldn’t see where to go or rally in the right place. That’s why what she did was so important.”

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“Abby’s cousin was a hero, too. He died shielding a little kid when an explosive went off,” said Brent.

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They were quiet for a few moments, thinking about Abby’s cousin as well as their own ancestors. Then Kelly said, “Mom, do you think the flag is still here in this house?  Where could it be?”

Mom shook her head.  “I’ve never heard about it. I would think someone would have passed down the story.”

“Please, Mom, can’t I look?”

She had to smile.  “Honey, this house has been thoroughly cleaned a few times in the last two hundred years.  When your grandmother and great-grandmother did spring cleaning—they really cleaned—plus it’s been renovated. The fireplaces were all closed up except for the one in the living room and closets were put in….”

“But please, can’t I look anyway?”

Mom smiled again, “well, okay. You can try if you want. But any flag that was here could have been taken away long ago—or put in a museum somewhere….”

“I’ll help, Kel,” said Brent. “And I’ll bet Abby will, too….Mom, why does there have to be war? How come God just doesn’t make it all go away?  He can fix anything.”

“That’s a good question–” But before Mom could go on, there was a commotion at the door,

Abby burst in, waving pages of the diary.

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“The flag! This says it’s in the attic!”

“Come on!” gasped Kelly.  “Let’s go see!”

 

To be Continued….

By Carol Bennett