Image from U.S. Capitol Historical Society
If the flag could talk, here’s what it might say
“Hello! Remember me? Some people call me Old Glory others call me the Stars and Stripes. I have also been referred to as the Star Spangled Banner. But whatever they call me, I am your flag, or as I proudly state … the flag of the United States of America.
“There is something that has been bothering me, so I thought I might talk it over with you because it is about you and me.
“I remember some time ago, I think it was Memorial Day, people were lined up on both sides of the street to watch the parade. The town’s high school band was behind me, and naturally, I was leading the parade. When your daddy saw me coming along, waving in the breeze, he immediately removed his hat and placed it against his left shoulder so that his right hand was directly over his heart. Remember?
“And you, yes, I remember you standing there straight as a soldier. You didn’t have a hat, but you were giving the correct salute. They taught you in school to place your right hand over your heart. Remember little sister? Not to be outdone, she was saluting the same as you. Oh, I was very proud as I came down your street. There were some soldiers home on leave, and they were standing at attention giving the military salute. Also, some VFW veterans with their caps at jaunty angles were saluting smartly. Ladies, as well as the men, paid me the reverence I deserved.
“Now I may sound a little conceited. Well, I am. I have a right to be, because I represent the finest country in the world — the United States of America. More than one aggressive nation has tried to haul me down, but they all felt the fury of this freedom-loving country. Remember, many of you had to go overseas to defend me.
“What has happened? I’m still the same old flag. Oh, I’ve had a couple more stars added since you were a boy. A lot more blood has been shed since that Memorial Day Parade long ago. Dad is gone now. The home town has a new look. The last time I came down your street, I saw that some of the old landmarks were gone, but in their place, shining majestically in the sun, were a number of new buildings and homes. Yes, sir, the old home town sure has changed.
“But now I don’t feel as proud as I used to. When I come down your street you just stand there with your hands in your pockets and give me a small glance then look or turn away. When I think of all the places I’ve been — Anzio, Guadalcanal, Battle of the Bulge, Korea, Vietnam, I wonder what’s happened? I’m the same old flag but now I see children running around and shouting as I pass by. They don’t seem to know who I am. I saw an old man take his hat off and then look around. He didn’t see anybody else with theirs off so he quickly put his back on.
“Is it a sin to be an American patriot anymore? Have you forgotten what I stand for? Have you forgotten all the battlefields where men fought and died to keep this nation, your nation free? When you salute me you are actually saluting them.
“Take a look at the Memorial Honor Rolls sometime. Look at the names of those who never came back and are resting beneath white crosses on a faraway shore. Some of them were friends or relatives of yours, maybe even went to school with you. That’s who you’re saluting when you revere me.
“Well, it won’t be too long until I come down your street again. So when you see me, stand straight, place your hand over your heart and you’ll see me waving back. My salute to you. I’ll show you that I too remember!”
Daily Review (Hayward, California) Jul 4, 1975