A flag with meaning

In the hectic transition into summer, it’s easy to get caught up in everything from barbecues and beach time to vacations with friends and family. But for Audra Brasure and her family, there was something else on their mind this season.

Since April, Joshua Brasure – Audra’s husband and father of their two daughters, Liberty and Hannah – has been stationed in Afghanistan, in his third deployment to the Middle East in the past few years.

While times can seem tough with a loved one overseas and Audra may have been without the one closest to her, she was far from alone. The congregation at the Ocean View Church of Christ, where Audra and her family have been long-time members, got together to let know Joshua know that, while he may not be right here, he was not forgotten.

Four times a year, the church’s Sisters in Service group sends a care package overseas. Their last one went to Joshua.

“They send a lot of things over,” noted Audra, who also has two brothers in the Air Force, one of whom is also in Afghanistan. “There are letters and cards, snacks, homemade cookies and baked goods, magazines, crossword puzzles, calling cards, things like that. And it’s a 50-pound package. They really send a lot.”

Susan Timmons is a member of the Sisters in Service, which organizes the packages that are shipped to bases overseas.

“So many soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq don’t get any mail,” she said. “We like to do what we can to let them know that their families and friends are keeping them in their prayers.”

With plenty of goodies to go around, Joshua was sure to share the loot.

“He shared the package with his entire squad over there,” noted Greg Wilgus, Audra’s father. “He’s told Audra how much he appreciates everyone here thinking of him and praying for him. When you get a package like this in the mail, it’s a feeling you can’t convey unless you experience it, yourself.

“While you’re away, you’re completely detached from what’s important to you and everything you want to do. Then, someone who doesn’t have to remembers you and does something like this. It’s really amazing.”

To show their appreciation, Joshua and his company flew a special American flag at their base, and last week, the flag was mailed back, along with a certificate, to Audra and the congregation.

“Since he’s been gone,” said Audra, “the church has really taken him in as part of the family. They’ve really reached out and always offer to make sure I’m OK.”

She acknowledged that she hasn’t decided whether the flag will be flown at the church, put on display, or both, but either way, Joshua knows that his work is not going unnoticed.

“It doesn’t take a lot of effort,” said Greg Wilgus, who also served in the service. “This is something that is ongoing. It’d be nice if others throughout a community and congregation do the same thing. It means a lot to the soldiers to show them you care.”

The Ocean View Church of Christ is currently accepting donations for their next package, scheduled to ship at the end of October. Items requested are towels, wash cloths, hard pretzels, beef jerky, hard candy, wipes, magazines, toiletries, hand sanitizer and lip balm. For more information, visit www.oceanviewchurchofchrist.com.

As people go about their daily routines, day in and day out, they pass dozens of American flags, in front of schools, police stations and fire halls, at churches, local businesses and residences. Maybe the flag is there to show a love and support for our country and heritage. But it may be there for a deeper reason.

Perhaps it’s helping to remind others of a loved one, serving and protecting the nation overseas – a symbol of someone’s thoughts and prayers; or maybe it’s a token of someone else’s thoughts and prayers sent right back home.