I did not need to see "Saving Private Ryan" to learn of the awesome sacrifice made in life and limb to keep our flag, Old Glory, flying over a free United States. As a young teenager during World War II, I delivered newspapers along the highway that led to a military hospital. Watching seemingly endless caravans of Army ambulances convoying wounded from hospital ships to the hospital was almost a weekly occurrence for me. I sometimes had the privilege of filling in for the carrier who delivered newspapers from room to room of the hospital and was awed by the fact that some of the wounded to whom I handed newspapers were barely older than I.
I also remember the sad daily ritual of reading the lengthy list of casualties on the front page of the newspaper, hoping I would not see a familiar name. Others in our community all too often saw names precious to them, and the blue stars that hung in their window to indicate a member of the family served our country would be replaced by a gold one to indicate the person had paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Very aware of those in World War II and other wars that won and maintained the freedom we enjoy today, I view our flag as a sacred symbol of the great sacrifice made by so many in those wars. Seeing almost every day a flag as large as a basketball court flying over a local car dealership who used it as a gimmick to advertise themselves upset me so much I wrote the following:
Our flag is not for selling cars,
No, not the one with stripes and stars
Which over countless dead has draped
In wars in which our land was shaped;
Its not for stimulating sales
When every other gimmick fails.
It isn't for festooning bars,
Nor promoting fine cigars;
Its not a cloak of righteousness
To dignify our selfish quests,
Nor just another piece of cloth
Unworthy of our ardent troth.
Our flag is meant to symbolize
America, Gods perfect prize
For loving freedom more than life
With fervor tried in toil and strife
While pausing not to count the price
That calls for awesome sacrifice.
Our flag is meant to eulogize
Our flag is meant to dramatize
The heights to which mankind can rise
In making dreams reality,
In lifting up humanity,
In reaching out with loving care,
While breathing freedoms precious air.
Our flag is meant to advertise
To all who seek our lands demise
That we who hold our colors high
Are trembling not but shall reply
With all our might when foes assail,
And with Gods help, we shall prevail.
Our flag is meant to solemnize
The stirred emotions that arise
From zealous hearts that swell inside,
No, not with arrogance and pride,
But with a thanks that makes us lift
Our praise to God for freedoms gift.
ŠJ. G. Braddock Sr.
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