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If the American Flag could talk

I am the American Flag; I fly proudly around the world in peaceful and hostile countries, at sporting events, houses of worship and outside your homes. So far I am still allowed in the classrooms despite objections by those who could only object because my very stars and stripes ensure their right to do so in a free country with free speech. Pledging your allegiance to me has become a matter of controversy instead of a matter of pride. In fact you can even burn me in protest and although the attempts on my life are constantly challenged, I take pride that my very existence allows you to do so without fear of your own death or imprisonment. Quite simply, I care and love you more, than some of you do about me.

Students of Southern Regional High School in New Jersey display a flag on their campus for every Military Member lost in Afghanistan and Iraq over the Memorial Day Weekend
Eric Braun - Examiner
Students of Southern Regional High School in New Jersey show their pride.
Eric Braun - Examiner

I fly in foreign lands, whose own flag is respected, not out of love but out of fear, it is not a right or a choice, it is a law. I just want to be loved because you love and respect what I represent. Not false love because you are afraid you will be shot or imprisoned for saying what you really feel, no matter how disrespectful and distasteful your word or actions are.

My birth certificate is the Constitution. My family is made up of my brothers and sisters who have defended me throughout the generations. I have watched them grow from young children to young adults who picked up a rifle and fought for my protection. I have lost far too many siblings who have died to ensure my protection and that I continue to represent the greatest nation on earth.

It deeply saddens me that on Memorial Day that I and those who fought for me are forgotten and taken for granted. The emphasis of the day is lost on picnics, barbeques and retail store sales; my memory has been reduced to being the unofficial start of the summer season. I fly at half-mast that day and even from a shortened view I look down at the people who have gathered to remember me and what I stand for. And more importantly those who made sure I am still here by sacrificing their lives and took a bullet for me and died on foreign soil within sight of me dug into the ground on a hill. As I look down at those who have gathered I hear the emotion in their voices, I see the lumps in their throats; I remember how they gave me the best years of their lives and served me with dedication, loyalty and distinction.

I hear the emotion in their voices, I see the tears in their eyes and I cry too, except you can’t notice because my colors never run, nor did the men and women who fought for my very survival.

Every year, as I see the postings on social media, I see all the reminders and those who declare their undying love for me and for those who served me. They post pictures and words of inspiration and I get excited thinking this is the year they will come out in large numbers to honor me and my comrades. But I am once again let down when only a few hundred show up on Main Street to pay their respects. I see and hear of changing attitudes about me but I am let down with a false sense of hope that a divided country can come together for the common good even if they disagree about the very issues and virtues I represent.

I continue to pray that that the winds will cause me to fly straight and are prevailing winds with a following sea. A sea of people who have come to their senses that they share a common bond of the principles I hold so dearly in my fabric. That those who have fought for me and have made the ultimate sacrifice are worth others taking an hour out of their three day weekend to remember and honor them.

On Memorial Day, I see the same familiar faces marching down Main Street; they are just another year older but loyal friends and comrades whom are as dedicated and loyal to me as I am to them. I feel the somberness of the day, the mood when the bugler plays taps and the reflex of the body when the shots ring out in honor of the fallen who have taken a bullet for me. Despite my disappointment, I still wave proudly in the air; I stand for a country and a people who want to do the right thing but who just can’t find the time to properly show it.

I remember those who have died for me and have served me to protect me and I know that although actions speak louder than words, I know I stand for a nation and a people who will rally behind me when the chips are down and the principles I stand for are threatened. I will continue to fly proudly; I have done so through centuries of wars, terrorist attacks and through good and bad domestic times.

I am as resilient as the people who defend me, I will not waver, I will not falter and I will not fade. I am battle tested, battle hardened and I am immortal.

I am the American Flag.

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