A flag is a standard. A flag is a symbol. A flag is used to reference something to which a person has allegiance. Many will recall the 2006 American war film directed by Clint Eastwood bearing the “Flags of Our Fathers” name.
This World War II drama tells the life stories of the six men who raised the flag on Mount Suribachi after winning one of the most crucial and costly battles of the war on the island of Iwo Jima. The iconic photo of U.S. servicemen raising the flag became a symbol of victory to a war-weary nation and an enduring flag of freedom. Love of country and paying the price of freedom are flags of my fathers.
The flag on my wooden sailboat was an orange triangle cut from laminated construction paper. Great-Grandpa Carlsen’s garage was converted into a workshop with enough tools and wood scraps to fascinate a small boy.
I remember following Grandpa into the garage and digging through a garbage can-size bin of wood pieces and leaving that day so proud of the wood boat, mast and sail we had crafted together.
My sailboat was not finished until it had a flag. When I think of this day, it is the orange flag on the boat that is the symbol of this experience with my Grandpa Carlsen.
When his son, and my Poppa, spent precious time with me many years later helping me renovate and complete finish work on my home, I knew his commitment to help me and his attention to detail were passed down by his father. Spending time with family, learning by study and example, and taking pride in ownership of your work are flags of my fathers.
My Grandpa Carlsen grew up in meager financial circumstances. He was always thinking of ways to earn extra money to bolster the family’s financial condition. In the early 1940s, during World War II, Grandpa Carlsen was contacted by a man selling a picture of the American flag.
The cost of the flag picture was $1, which to most would have been considered a high price at the time. Grandpa Carlsen thought that this depiction of the American flag to be the most beautiful and outstanding picture he had ever seen. He thought that maybe he could make a little extra money for family expenses if he could start selling these flag pictures.
It is unknown how many flag pictures he ordered and how many he sold, or if he made any extra money in the process. It is only known that he had many flag pictures in his possession.
I was honored when I was able to hang one of my Grandpa Carlsen’s flag pictures on the wall behind my desk at the Idaho State Capitol. In addition to being a stunning picture, every time I looked at that flag, it reminded me of my grandfather and great-grandfather and the values they passed on to me. Sacrifice and the stewardship of money and providing for your family even in difficult times are flags of my fathers.
Another United States flag, neatly folded into a triangle and protected by a plastic cover, sat on my bookshelf at the Capitol. This flag was used to honor my Grandpa Manwaring, who served in the Navy as a radio repairman and was draped over the casket at his funeral.
Each time I see this flag, I remember my Grandpa Manwaring and his commitment to service and treating people well. This tradition continues as I have watched my dad serve a life of service as a farmer, firefighter and EMT, and currently as a Bingham County Commissioner.
My dad has taught me lessons about the value of work passed on from his father. Work ethic and service to others are flags of my fathers.
My Great-Grandpa Ward was short in stature with a gruff voice and a noble character. People respected him because he treated them well, and his many acts of selfless service were not expected to be glorified by others.
I know of several accounts of anonymous contributions to assist others that were in need. He kept his business dealings honest with a handshake. When I chose to name my law practice Milestone Law, it was inspired from my Grandpa Ward’s Milestone Potato Equipment business and the values it inspired in me and my approach to doing business. Integrity, charity and altruistic acts are flags of my fathers.
Let us not forget the Father at the top our patriarchal chain. Let us recommit to honor Him. My fathers are my standard. The lessons they have taught are my reference to those things I hold dear and to which I hope to pass on. The flags of our fathers represent the traditions to which we should aspire.
Dustin Manwaring is a business and estate planning attorney in Pocatello and served in the Idaho Legislature from 2016-2018.