As I mentioned in a previous post, shortly after hearing of the tragedy of the helicopter in Afghanistan which took 30 American lives the majority of which were Navy SEAL's, I was in attendance at a Cub Scout Camp Out with my two sons.
The Cub Scout along with several of the fathers in attendance were Veteran's. The Flag Retirement Ceremony is always emotional, but with the added deaths it seemed heavier. The Cub Master read the following poem, which to me seemed to go beyond Our Flag speaking to us, but the Fallen Men and Women of our Country speaking to us. I felt as if every person who had ever fought for Our Flag was speaking the words.
With permission I have the Cub Scout I AM YOUR FLAG poem that was read at our ceremony.
“I am your Flag. I appear in many places. I have taken many forms and been called many names. I was authorized by Congress in 1818 in the form you see now and have remained unchanged except to add a new star each July 4th after a new State joined the Union until I reached my present number of 50.”
“I am more than just red, white, and blue cloth shaped into a design. I am a silent sentinel of freedom. People of every country in the world know me on sight. Many countries love me as you do. Other countries look at me with contempt because they don’t allow the freedom of Democracy that I represent – but they do look on me with respect. I am strong and the people of America have made me strong. My strength comes from your willingness to give help to those who are in need. You strive for world peace, yet stand ready to fight oppression. You send resources and offer technology to less fortunate countries so they may strive to become self-sufficient. You feed starving children. You offer a home to anyone who will pledge allegiance to America. “
“Your sons gather beneath me to offer their lives on the battlefields, to preserve the Liberty I represent. That’s why I love the American people. That’s why I have flown so proudly.”
“Scouts and their families are some of my favorite people. I listen to your patriotic songs. I’m there at your flag ceremonies and I appreciate the tender care you give me. I feel the love when you say your pledge. I notice that your hand covers your heart when I am on parade. How smartly you salute as I pass by and I ripple with pleasure when I see it. I have had the great Honor of being your flag of the United States of America.”
“But now I am tired and it’s time for me to rest in the Sacred Flames of your campfire. My colors are faded and my cloth is tattered but my spirit remains unbroken.”
“As you watch me burn, do not be sad or feel sorry for me. I will be back the next time you need me, and my colors will be fresh and bright and my edges won’t be ragged anymore. Next time when I climb to the top of the flagpole I’ll wave at you and remember the love and respect that you have showed me here tonight.”
Have you ever witnessed a Flag Retirement Ceremony? How has it impacted you?