There is nothing that moves me to tears faster as a veteran, as a military spouse or as a proud American than good flag etiquette. I am humbled each and every time I see Old Glory being raised by a group of soldiers to the familiar bars of revelry, with a crisp salute. There is a sense of relief that my day is over when I stop, get out of my car, render a salute in the direction of a post flag pole as retreat is being played over the post loud speakers. That slow gesture of the final salute as a flag is being lifted from the coffin of one of our finest who gave the ultimate sacrifice while guns are being fired off to warn heaven a warrior is on his way brings me to tears every time. I cannot look at our Old Glory and not be in awe of it’s history, it’s pedigree and in remembrance of those who have given their life in sacrifice for it.
It is more than just red and white stripes with white stars on a blue background. It is a symbol of the greatness of our nation. It is a humble reminder that each and everyone of us has a place in this world free of religious persecution, free of imprisonment for speaking our truth, and free to pursue what makes us happy. Everyday I feel blessed to have been a part of something that defended those freedoms even in a small way. I am honored to be married to a hero who still fights to defend those freedoms. I am humbled by the sacrifices of my sons to seek service in such an honorable profession. I am proud to be a wife and step-mother of soldiers who recognize the dangers but choose instead to answer the call in defending our freedoms. The red stripes of our flag is their blood, the white stripes of our flag is their honor, the blue background of our flag is their loyalty, and the 50 stars of our flag is home.
It makes me madder than a wet hen to see someone defile the flag. When our enemies or even our own citizens light it on fire, it fires me up! It is more than just thread binding pieces of colored cloth together that they’re burning in effigy- they’re engulfing in flames our way of life. It burns my biscuits that even our own citizens have forgotten the history and etiquette of our flag. When I see someone letting our flag drag on the ground, it breaks my heart. It feels like they’re dragging my boys through the mud. When I see someone hang the flag upside down to protest a government policy they disagree with I want to cry. It only serves to remind me that many of us don’t know what true distress in combat feels like and should never belittle that symbol. When a crowd of people sit on their behinds as an American flag passes them in a parade, I want to scream. “Stand up!” I want to yell, “take off your hat, rest your hand over you heart or salute Old Glory- remember where you come from and everyone who’s carried a flag like this into battle so you can have the freedom to live in a free society!”
I know I’m preaching to the choir, as military spouses and families we know how to behave when Old Glory enters a room. We know the sacrifices made in her name. We understand how to behave properly in her presence. But for those folks who don’t… feel free to pass on this info to them-
And I leave you with a photo… this photo was taken by Carrie Dodd- Stanley who rides with the Patriot Guard Riders out of Kansas City Missouri. She took this photo during the annual “Snake Saturday” parade this last Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day. You see this disabled veteran is the only one standing as the American Flag passes by… I am humbled by his actions. I hope we all are if not humbled… then embarrassed enough to do better. Thank you sir for your service… and above all WELCOME HOME!