Have you noticed the tiny U.S. flags affixed to the laces of Chippewa Boots? I have thought about those little Stars & Bars more in the last three months then I have in the last three years. For those of you not “in the know” the flags denote Chippewa Boots that are handcrafted in the USA.
Pretty cool, but I’m ashamed to admit that from time to time I have removed (and replaced) some of the red, white, and blue on my boots. I’d wear them for a while, fulfilling a personal sense of patriotism, but eventually yank them for one lame excuse or another.
Typically I would pull the flags and laces from my favorite Loggers and Arctic boots to clean and recondition the leather after a series of particularly filthy hunts. Out of the box the flag’s glossy finish and prominent shine are hard to miss. But after a season spent in the field transitioning between wet, muddy, and bone-dry conditions they tend to lose a little luster. But thankfully never lose their meaning.
Regardless of your political leanings I would hope those tiny pieces of brass painted in our nation’s colors would make you stop and think. Essentially about our freedom and those individuals who defend it. I was reminded in January during my annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the SHOT Show (Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade Show).
There I met Chief Petty Officer and Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. We sat at a round table in the Outdoor Channel hospitality suite with industry friends and colleagues. We were merely acquaintances introduced by a mutual friend at the network. We shook hands, talked about our kids, shooting, and outdoor pursuits. The typical “Where you been?” and “Where you going?” type conversations that all like-minded outdoorsmen and women have when they meet for the first time.
No one could have foreseen the tragedy that would play out just two weeks later and I consider myself lucky for just having met him. I’ve heard a lot of words used to describe Chris in recent months. Loving husband and father. True Texan. American hero. The Legend. And by all accounts those labels are not only well deserved but true.
I’m confident the next time I’m sitting in a goose blind or on the front porch steps of a cabin somewhere off the beaten path I’ll look down and be infinitely more appreciative of my lot in life. The tiny flags are there to stay. No lame excuses. Just perfect little reminders of the price of freedom and how lucky I am to live in this country and do what I do.0 Comments