As a youngster, I was taught about the flag and what it meant. I learned about the flag by listening to my parents and watching them live as Americans in a free society, being responsible citizens, demonstrating the finest values of growing up in, and being good stewards of this special place, America.
Through teens and into adulthood, I learned about the issues and challenges we face as Americans. I witnessed our strengths and weaknesses, our successes and failures. As an old man, I see those same attributes today, as we struggle to grow and become better citizens.
I learned to love our country through education and service, a brief stint in the military for the latter and a wonderful patriotic school activity for the former.
Every Memorial Day, my elementary school would gather in the schoolyard to sing patriotic songs, military songs, our National anthem and to recite our Pledge of Allegiance. The chorus of young voices filled the neighborhood, locals gathered to listen and sing along. It was a happy time, a proud time, a patriotic time. It was the 50s.
The celebration ended with a recital of our Pledge of Allegiance and the playing of ‘taps’ from an unseen trumpeter in the distance. Our American flag flew from every corner of the old brick school building. The moment was exhilarating, even for a kid.
I remember that annual event as though it was yesterday. I can still sing the military ballads and belt out the Star Spangled Banner, and I do when the spirit moves me.
These many years later, on Memorial Day and Independence Day, my wife lines an array of small American flags in front of our house. It’s attractive but more importantly, it quietly expresses our feelings about our ‘home’, America, while paying silent tribute to all those who sacrificed so much to protect and preserve the American spirit and way of life.
Why do I raise the flag? Simply because I’m proud to be an American and I love my country.
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