To encourage and fortify relationships between military service members, veterans, their families, their friends, and their Country; to nurture the path of communication for everyone, ensuring that no one is alone or left behind; and proving that we have not, are not, and will never forget the nobility of their sacrifices.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
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?
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Kris, you inspired me to do something while on vacation. While having breakfast one morning I noticed an older man and his wife sitting there. He was wearing an "army - retired" hat with unit pin and purple heart pin, obviously seen action. So I went up to him and thanked him for his service. He turned his hat around and showed me the POW pin. 3 years as a Korean war POW. It was incredible. So thank you Kris for helping me meet this man.
This is the sort of interaction I have every chance I get when I see anyone in a uniform, Veteran's Hat, Unit shirt, or Blue Star insignia. Knowing I've inspired others to follow my example and share the gratitude every American should feel for those who serve gives me a sense of accomplishment.
Have you ever voiced your gratitude? Was it a rewarding experience for you?
Sunday, August 14, 2011
I was at a Cub Scout Camp with my boys when I found out about the death of the 30 men on the Chinook. I shared the sad information with the Cub Master, a Veteran. At the camp fire, a Flag was retired. Before it was placed in the fire the Cub Master read a variation of the poem I Am The Flag. He included the lost and their families into the ceremony. The Flag retirement ceremony seemed like a fitting memorial for the service members who had died fighting for the Flag. The ceremony was emotional for several of us around the camp fire. Once home I contacted my friends who knew a few of the deceased and offered my compassion for their loss. I shared with them the experience of the Flag ceremony as a memorial. I have been given permission to post part of their response to their friends sacrifices.
Don't cry for any lost, though. Know that all (well, most of us) join these communities with the full knowledge and acceptance of the possible outcome. Many of us would rather die doing something to help others than as old people in our beds. Don't cry or mourn...celebrate and be grateful and love them and their familiies for what they did.I have experienced my share of death in this life, it is the living I feel for, because learning to live without a loved one can be like learning to breathe underwater. It seems impossible at first. I hope the families of the fallen from this crash, as well as the families of the fallen over the last 10 years from Iraq and Afghanistan feel the love and support of American's everywhere. As my other friend put it:
Its okay to cry and mourn, but what i like to do is think about the good times that you had with them and the smiles that you shared. I knew some of the guys that went down in the Chinook and finding out about their names this morning, I was hurt at first, mad the next second, and then realized that theres nothing I can do about it now. We spent the rest of the day laughing remembering funny things those guys had done and said. Laugh, smile and remember the good times.The men who died are more than a number on a tragic day. They are sons, fathers, brothers, husbands, uncles, and friends. I wanted to take my friends advice and write a post that celebrated their lives, only I didn't have the honor to know any of them. Then I found this article by Stars and Stripes which celebrates the lives of each one of the men through the eyes of those who loved them. I highly recommend you read and honor the lives and the families of the men who died in the crash.
Remember Their Sacrifice. Our Freedom.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
There has only been one instance where a boy didn't stand or take off his hat. The other children in the class took it upon themselves to tell this boy to stop disrespecting OUR Country and the people who fight for OUR Flag. I told the class the boy had the right not to stand or take his hat off. The entire class gave the boy a look that said if he didn't respect the Pledge of Allegiance the other kids would take the issue up again at recess. The boy stood taking of his hat. He said every word. I think this particular kid was just trying to give me a hard time because I was a substitute, not because he had any one particular belief.
In the future I will carry a copy of this cartoon with me when I teach. I think it's important for the children to know they are not really disrespecting me when they refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance as the cartoon below shows.
What is your opinion on The Pledge Of Allegiance being said in schools?