Flag Day – June 14th

Flag Day is celebrated on June 14th and celebrates when the Second Continental Congress adopted Old Glory as the flag of the United States.

The U.S. Army uses the same date to celebrate its birthday.  Interestingly, the Army is two years older than the Flag.  Notice I capitalized flag; that is because I’m talking about “the Flag”, our Flag… my Flag.  Not everyone feels like I do about our Flag, I understand that.

I have raised her in the blustering cold of Alaska and North Dakota and the blistering heat of Texas and the Philippines and Iraq.  I have broken ice off her frozen lanyards and burned my hands on her metal pole.

I have seen her grace vehicles after 9/11 and I’ve picked her up off the road six months later… when the fad faded.  I have saluted her as she waved… in cemeteries over veterans’ graves.  I have placed her next to veteran’s markers going all the way back to the War of 1812.  I have seen her wrapped around caskets solemnly brought on board C-17s in Iraq for the trip home.

I have folded her into a triangle and placed her in the hands of a family member with the words, “On behalf of a grateful nation…” as tears escaped and rolled down my face.  I faced down a protestor, who told me he had the right to wipe his ass on the flag if he wanted too.

I said, “You’re right, because folks like me, men and women, fought to make sure you had that right… But I wouldn’t do that in front of me…”

You may try to burn my flag, but you can’t burn an idea.  You may try to desecrate her, you will simply shame yourself.  I have seen her dirty.  I have seen her worn and frayed.  I have seen huge ones and I have seen tiny ones sent to soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard… each folded neatly and stuck in a pack or pocket in a war zone.  To us that served her, stood for her at attention, fought for her and under her, she is always magnificent.

For, to paraphrase the words of Charles M. Province, U.S. Army:

It is the Soldier (sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard), not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier (sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard), not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier (sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard), not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier (sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard), not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier (sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard), not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier (sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard), not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier (sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard) who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag…

But… I wouldn’t do that in front of one of us.

-Bob

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Photo credit:  www.AskIdeas.com