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Since the American Revolutionary War, the flag has been a symbol of freedom. It represents a nation that fought for independence. It waves over every state capitol and has been raised in every war and battle that our military has fought. It has been the only inspiration for many soldiers who had nothing else to give to survive and win the toughest battles.
During the war of 1812, soldiers raised the huge U.S. flag over Fort McHenry to celebrate a crucial victory over the British. It was this same flag that gave hope to all those who saw it that freedom was strong and that our independence would last. It was this experience that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner.
In all its glory, the flag continues to represent our independence. While serving over seas in Korea during the 1980s, I recall seeing “Old Glory” flying high over the camp that I was assigned. The site of seeing this flag flying above the camp everyday inspired me to perform my very best as a soldier. It was one of the few things that reminded me that I was an American soldier on foreign soil who represented a free nation.
The importance of our flag is a testament to the freedoms that we enjoy. It has traveled far to display it majestic symbolism of freedom. The flag has gone to the moon and to the depths of the sea. In January 1960, Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss scientist Jacques Picard descended record depths in the bathyscaphe in Trieste. While making their descent in the Mariana Trench, 210 miles southwest of Guam, they lowered the US American flag. It was released in a weighted plastic container and now rests at this historic location.
Over time, some people have attempted to diminish the importance of our flag and to eliminate some of the traditions surrounding our flag. Many people have forgotten the traditional respects to the flag such as putting their hand over their heart as the flag passes by them. Many have also forgotten the correct way to fly or fold the flag. (To learn more about the US Flag Code click here). Still others, would rather remove the flag to display their own flag. For example, President Obama removed the flag from his campaign plane and replaced it with his own symbol.
In all of this, one must ask what a young soldier serving in a foreign country thinks about the disrespect that some have for the flag. I wonder how the Navy Pilot Mike Christian feels after being beaten by the North Vietnamese for making a US flag. I often wonder about those brave soldiers who carried the flag into battle who lost their lives fighting under “Old Glory”. Their honor and respect for the flag went far beyond a piece of cloth. It represented their country, their home, their way of life. It stood for freedom and the opportunity to live their lives as they so desired.
As the flag so majestically waves over our country, I am reminded of all those who sacrificed for the freedoms that we enjoy. And so, as I pass by the flag, I solemnly place my hand over my heart with gratitude that the flag still waves proudly over a free nation. May we always remember that the flag is more than just a piece of cloth flying over a building. It represents all that America has sacrificed to become. It is for this reason that “these colors don’t run.” May the flag forever wave over America!
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