If you go here, you will learn the Pledge of Alegiance and its meaning as well as the do’s, don’ts and etiquette of the U.S. flag. You need to know this for a reason and I will relay to you why thru my Memorial Day experience.
Thousands of WWII veterans are dying each month. A generation with first hand experiences is about to be lost forever, fading into history books, to be taught to others as people deem fit. Korean War vets are close behind. Then it will be the Vietnam era. I, like many others, look forward to the 3 day weekend for cookouts, gatherings, even shopping and this is all okay. We are a society that gets to enjoy our days as we deem fit…….as long as a tribute is paid for the occasion of the holiday-Memorial Day.
I took my ride in Rolling Thunder as I have for 23 years now (although I did take a break twice to watch live the CocaCola 600 NASCAR race in Charlotte). I have been noticing as of late that the purposes to many just seems to be a “group” ride to the city. Once there, people sit in the shade away from the ride to drink, talk and relax. Many make new friends or meet up with old buddies they served with. I watch the bikes for awhile (the procession takes about 6 hours these days) and although it was cruelly humid, the drenching was part of the price. I happened to have my oldest daughter ride with me this year as well as my nephew. It was a first for the both of them. We walked the Wall, saw the nurses memorial and then went to the WWII memorial. I noticed many foreigners that were marveling on their vacation the sights of the memorials. Some with disrespect such as sticking their feet in the WWII memorial fountain or the loud talking and running past people at the Wall. They showed no regard to the vets crying over their buddies or the families remembering Dad with gifts, memorabilia, pictures and poems. This hit me hard. Do people not have respect for our fallen heroes?
Depending on which side of Costitution Ave. you are on, if you haven’t returned to the side you need to before the parade starts at noon, you will be stuck for at least 4 hours. We returned to our side, watched some of the parade and then left to visit my parents at the Lee estate. We rode into the cemetary and parked at the curb next to the row where my parents headstone is placed. I saw many people walking the paths going to “those special attractions” and even tourist trams for those that want the riding tour. I marveled at this. How do you get to understand the enormity and the individuals in Arlington Cemetary if you DON’T get off the path? Every headstone has a name and every headstone has a story. The story, albeit brief, gives a name, rank, war served, birth, death and, sometimes, award. These are but a smattering of the heroes buried in this nation that served our country so that I could write and talk about this. My daughter had noticed something and it got my attention in a very upsetting way. It appears that all too many gravestones had numerous scratches and chips in them due to the people mowing the grass. The headstones are always trimmed by other means so that this doesn’t happen. This, in my mind, is another sign of disrespect and contempt. And, as usual, every headstone and market had an American flag in front of it to show honoring. This is a timely endeavor but is part of the price paid. Do tourist really understand what it is about?
As with Sunday, I noticed as I went out Memorial Day to visit my wife’s Dad in Leesburg that there were no flags about. I will be generous and say that for evryone 40 residences there was ONE flag. It was no different in Leesburg either, although, on a couple of streets, they had hung flags on the light poles. This is a day to give honor; a day to remember those who fought and died protecting our freedoms yet I guess everyone was too busy with their own needs. A flag doesn’t cost much yet where were they? I know I will see more during the 4th of July than I saw this weekend.
Everyone should own a flag for display outside. They are very affordable and it is our patriotic duty to fly said flags during special times. I have many American flags of different materials, sizes and patterns. They range from $10 to $100 and I USE them. I do not own an American flag made anywhere but in America. It just doesn’t seem honorable to fly my countries’ flag that was made in communist China. I have given you flag etiquette…..read it. Some people just put a flag out and leave it out. Okay. Some put there flag out on special days. Okay. Believe it or not, flying the American flag can be a chore at times because you must keep track of all conditions and how to do it. Flying the symbol of my country will NEVER be a chore because it is my duty to not only do it but to know how to do it respectfully. I like to fly my parents flag because that is what they flew on their house when they were living. Regardless which American flag I fly I will always have pride and give honor to the people of my country.
Where is all this going? Let me tell you how I feel and why I needed to write this before I just broke down and cried. I have felt a rage and deep loathing for those politicos, teachers, parents and all others whose job it is as Americans to instill knowledge and duty into every citizen about our heritage, the sacrifices of our citizens for this country and what is so important about its symbol. I feel pity for those Americans that are ignorant of the value of our flag. Those that pursued that knowledge on their own and kept it I have great admiration. I have disdain for those who come to this country, having no “skin in the game”, that give no honor or respect of their perspective new home or that use us with no regard to those who gave sacrifice of which they reap reward. I am saddened and, at times, cry for those fallen or living that have a deep respect and understanding of duty, honor and valor, yet feel betrayed, lost or remorseful for their contributions. We are losing America and I feel betrayed.
I would like to leave you with the folding of the flag and TAPS story. Read the story and read the words. My eyes do well-up by the understanding. At this point I feel that I have done my duty to inform you. I believe it is up to us all to inform others and keep our nations symbol in honor. And although you might come across those people that feel their right to burn or mutilate that symbol; my knowledge and understanding of that symbol gives me the right to go to jail for pummeling said individuals. That is another price that needs to be paid. Freedom is not free and will always carry a price that every citizen must pay.
I wish to thank my Dad, my Mom and all those service men and women as well as civilians who have made my liberty possible. GOD bless you all!