Our flag…a piece of colored fabric or a symbol of power and peace?

It has been written that the white in our flag symbolizes purity and innocence, red is for hardiness and valor, and blue is

the color chosen to symbolize vigilance, perseverance and justice.  This is according to the Continental Congress ‘s resolution on July 4, 1776.  They go on to say that the star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial while the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun.

These lofty symbols were part of the vision of a new world.  Revolution happened and the U.S. became a nation made of individual states filled with immigrants looking for religious freedom and freedom from tyrannical rule.

Today, we don’t think of these things, especially as they relate to the flag.  Too many of us see the flag as a piece of colored fabric that has little more significance than the flag of our favorite college or pro team.  I cannot speak for all veterans, but I believe many feel as I do when we look at the flag.

I see some of my very own blood in the red stripes in our flag.

I became a veteran in 1971, after I spent a year and a half in Vietnam.  I see the flag as freedom…as my homeland…as a symbol of power and strength and as the protector of the weak and innocent.  Although our flag is but fabric with colored dyes, I see in my heart and soul the many who have died in order that we can live under the protection of this great piece of cloth.

What does one feel when they see a swastika on a flag?  Hey, its only dye on fabric too!  Men and women have always donned the U.S. Military uniform in the protection of a way of life that our flag guarantees.  When we think of baseball, mom and apple pie, we are thinking of a way of life that would not exist without the extraordinary people of our military.

I get a literal lump in my throat when I salute the flag on Memorial Day at the wonderful and honorable ceremonies at Calumet Park Cemetery each May.  When I hang my flag on the front of my house, I remember my days in the service, and I pray for the safety and safe return of our military men and women from wherever they may face danger around the world.

If there is a veteran in your family, whether young and fresh out of the military or an old and worn out veteran of WWII, Korea or Vietnam, give them a hug and say thanks.  There is a quote that I will always remember that was printed on a shield at the 5th Special Forces Group headquarters in Nha Trang, Vietnam many years ago:  “You haven’t lived until you have almost died.  For those who fight for it, life has a meaning that the protected will never know.” 

There is a band of brothers and sisters who have fought, and continue to fight, for what is right and good and holy about America.  Freedom is so much more than just a word just as our flag is so much more than colored thread woven in the shape of a rectangle hung from a pole.

Take a deep breath of fresh air and taste the freedom that was bought and paid for through the blood and guts and sacrifice of our military.  And when they leave the service, and they take on the name “veteran”, remember, it is  through their purity and innocence, their hardiness and valor, their vigilance, perseverance and justice, that you and I have the privilege of enjoying our lives as free Americans.

So, from this simple writer, thank you to all of our veterans, and to those who, by the grace of God will come home safely, know that your contributions now will entitle you to call yourself a proud veteran!

For more information, go to calumetparkcemetery.com or call 769-8803.

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