Honor Old Glory on Flag Day
Flag Day (June 14) is a day when all Americans, regardless of ideologies, race, creed or political persuasion, join together to honor the Stars and Stripes.
It is a symbol signifying the many sacrifices of those who carried it. Their endeavors, under its red, white and blue colors, made it possible for each of us to enjoy a life that so many fought and died for in order to preserve.
All Americans are living in a perplexing time for our beloved United States, so although only a single day is set aside to honor our flag, I decided to personally contact this cherished, inanimate emblem of liberty and freedom and request the thoughts of our desecrated "piece of colored cloth."
My request was answered and here is the reply:
Some Americans call me Old Glory, others refer to me as the Stars and Stripes, but whatever they call me, I am your flag - the flag of the United States of America. However, something has been bothering me, so I have decided to talk it over with you, because you see, it's all about you and me.
I can remember a while back, when people would line up on both sides of the street downtown to watch the parade and, naturally, I was out front, waving proudly in the breeze. When the older folks saw me coming, the men immediately removed their hats and placed them against their left shoulders so that their right hands were directly over their hearts. You remember that scene, don't you, Hank?
What has happened? I am still the same old flag.
It is true, I have a few more stars since long ago, because there were young people all around there and a lot more blood has been shed and new states have been added since those past parades. But now, somehow I don't feel as proud as I used to.
When I see a parade down these same streets and people just stand there with their hands in their pockets, I may just be given a glance and then everyone looks away.
Then, I notice the young people, our future leaders, running around and shouting. They just don't seem to know who I am. I did notice a man remove his hat and look around. He didn't see anyone else do this, so he quickly put his hat back on.
Then there was the night at the baseball game, when "The Star-Spangled Banner" was played and I waved proudly in the breeze. But no one knew the words, so they didn't bother to sing. Hank, it really hurt.
A question: Is it a sin to be patriotic? Has everyone forgotten what I stand for and all of the places I have been carried? Anzio, Guadalcanal, Korea, Iwo Jima, Normandy, Vietnam, Iraq. Take a look at the memorial rolls - names of those who never returned - who gave their lives in order to ensure your free way of life. One nation under God. When you salute me, you are saluting each of these heroes.
Perhaps I may not be leading a parade down your street for a while, for it seems that patriotic parades are becoming a thing of the past. But when I do, Hank, will you do me a big favor? Stand tall, place your right hand over your heart and when "The Star-Spangled Banner" is played, sing the words loud and clear. I will return this honor by waving in the breeze.
Please show me that you remember, for I am your flag.
With honor and love,
Hank W. Bishop Jr. lives in Gainesville.