“Grandpa, why are barns red?”
“Well, I reckon it’s to keep the cows from getting confused and going to sleep in the wrong house.”
“Is that true?”
“We could paint our house red and find out,” Grandpa bellowed. The little girl giggled.
Grandma smiled. She held a casserole covered with a white dish towel in her lap. The three of them fit just right in the old, blue pickup truck. The heat of summer had forced the windows down.
Amy was six. As usual, her brain was in fine form on this special day. Thinking about the red barns naturally reminded her of something she had done every day in her first year of school.
“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” she recited to her grandparents. Both of them smiled and glanced at each other.
“You know you’re supposed to put your right hand over your heart when you say the Pledge of Allegiance,” Grandma said.
“And the boys take off their ball caps,” Grandpa added.
“We stand up at our desks and face the Flag,” Amy said excitedly. “Do you know why there are thirteen red and white stripes?” Before either of them could answer, she told them. “My teacher said it’s for the thirteen colonies that started our country.”
Grandma patted Amy on the leg, “That’s right, dear.” Amy quietly repeated the Pledge several more times to herself.
They drove past a field of blue linseed dancing in the mid-morning light. Grandpa didn’t see it. He smiled at a memory from long ago. It took place on the red hills of Georgia. Bright stars had filled the dark blue night sky. He had kissed her the first time on the 4th of July. In his mind, all the fireworks since then were a celebration of the best choice he had made in his life.
Grandma remembered her daddy, a WWII veteran, explaining proper flag etiquette to her as a young girl. “No part of it should ever touch the ground, or any other object,” he had told her. He made sure it didn’t touch her mother’s prized red roses, or the white porch rails. He was so handsome in his dress blues.
“Here we are,” Grandpa shut the engine off. A line of vehicles were already parked in front of the big red barn. Tables covered in white collected the food. The sky was a perfect blue.