Former Washington State Senator Leo Thorsness (1932-2017) shared this true story entitled, “Mike’s Flag”.
(I was confined) as a POW in North Vietnam at the Hoa Lo prison camp. The treatment had been frequently brutal at the “Hanoi Hilton”, as it became known. But after six years, the beatings and torture that were once routine became less and less frequent.
During the last year, we were allowed outside most days for a couple of minutes to bathe. We showered by drawing water from a concrete tank with a homemade bucket. One day, as we all stood stripped of our clothes, a young naval aviator named Mike found the remnants of an old handkerchief in a gutter that ran under the prison wall.
Mike managed to sneak the grimy rag into our cell and began fashioning it into a flag. Over time we all loaned him a little soap, and he spent days cleaning it. Although it was just a grey and tattered piece of cloth, we helped by scrounging and stealing bits and pieces of anything he could use. At night, under his mosquito net, Mike worked on the flag.
With thread from his one blanket and a homemade bamboo needle, Mike sewed on the stars. He made red and blue from ground-up roof tiles, medicine, anything we could scrounge or steal. With rice glue, he painted the colors onto the cloth.
Early in the morning a few days later – when the guards were not alert – he whispered loudly from the back of his cell, “Hey gang, look here!” He proudly held up this tattered piece of cloth, waving it as if in a breeze. If you used a lot of imagination, you could kind of tell it was supposed to be an American flag. When he held up that grimy rag, we automatically stood straight and saluted, our chests puffing out, and more than a few eyes had tears.
About once a week the guards would strip our clothes, run us outside and go through our clothing. During one of these shakedowns, they found Mike’s flag. We all knew what would happen. That night they came for Mike.
Night interrogations were always the worst. They opened the cell door and pulled Mike out. We could hear the beginning of the torture before they even had him in the torture cell. They beat him most of the night. About daylight they pushed what was left of him back through the cell door. He was badly broken; even his voice was gone.
Within two weeks, Mike scrounged another piece of cloth and began making another flag.
Some people believe we must be able to destroy our flag to prove we are free. Mike believed we must protect our flag to prove we are free.
This Sunday our great nation will celebrate its 245th birthday, and our prayer is “God Bless America!” We see many things happening that are contrary to God’s plan for our nation, but the Lord is still in control! Psalm 33:12 declares, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance.” So keep praying (2 Chronicles 7:14), keep loving (John 15:12-13) and keep standing strong (Ephesians 6:10-13)!
Join the “Celebration of Freedom” this Sunday at 10:35am. What a joy it is to honor our nation’s flag and all it represents. But, while we have much to be thankful for as Americans, our first allegiance is to Jesus Christ and we rejoice in the awesome freedom He has purchased for us. “He whom the Son sets free is free indeed” (John 8:36)!
The July 4th BBQ will take place right after the worship service. Ono-licious teri-burgers, hot dogs, buns and ice cream will be provided. Just bring your favorite picnic side dishes: salads (mac, potato, fruit, etc), baked beans, sushi, chips, etc. And don’t forget the lettuce & tomato for the burgers. Broke da mouth! Please don’t miss it!
Note: We will set up canopies in the parking lot so we can enjoy a "Picnic in the Park-ing Lot".
If you are not able to join us in-person in the building at 10:35am for the worship service, please join us Online for the Live broadcast on Facebook (Search: Honolulu AG). The recording will also be uploaded later that day to our website (honoluluag.org) and YouTube channel (Search: Honolulu Assembly of God).
Aloha and Aloha ke Akua!