(November 12, 2007)
|During my recent induction
into the Navy Chief's Mess, I was asked to
facilitate a flag retirement ceremony. I had to do a
bit of research as there is no official ceremony
either in the U.S. Flag Code or in Navy regulations
and as I was doing this it really got me to thinking
about the flag and what it really means. To most men
and women in the military it is far more than just a
piece of fabric or a symbol. It is much more than
just something we run up a flag pole and salute in
the morning and bring down and salute in the
Red, White and Blue, what does it really
The white . . . is for purity,
purity of purpose and intention that is in our
hearts and souls as well as the honor we hold dear.
The red . . . is for the blood
that has been shed and continues to be shed to win
and to defend our freedom.
The blue . . . is for valor and
courage that binds our country together.
The blue field . . . covered with
stars also represents God's Heaven under which it
|Is there anything more
fitting for our military to carry into battle or for our
heroes to rest under? That flag and its predecessors have
flown over every battle fought by the United States since it
was born on 14 June 1777. The flag has been used to bind
many wounds and has covered many caskets. Have you ever seen
a flag pole with the ball on top? Do you know what was
originally in it? When the ball was originally put on the
top of the flag pole it contained a razor, a match and a
bullet. The razor and the match were to prevent the flag
from falling into enemy hands and the bullet was to prevent
the live capture of the last soldier standing. Pretty deep
How powerful a symbol is the flag that we would destroy it
rather than have it fall into enemy hands. I can only
imagine the feelings that ran through Francis Scott Key when
he wrote the Star Spangled Banner but I have no doubt that
he has not been the only person who has felt that way upon
seeing our flag, especially after battle. One of the most
awe inspiring things to witness is a funeral with full
military honors. To see the flag draped casket, to watch an
honor guard fold the flag with reverence and then to present
it to the family of the departed service member that
tangible symbol of their sacrifice and our nation's debt and
respect. Wow! That's all I can say. When our fallen service
members are returned from Iraq or Afghanistan they travel
home under the flag they fought under. It is called an angel
flight. I had the opportunity to see one while I was in
Kuwait. I can't describe the feeling of driving around the
curve and seeing the open ramp on the C-17 with the honor
guard lining the sides with the flag draped casket sitting
in the center of the cargo bay. I brought the convoy to a
halt out of respect as the fallen angel was brought off the
plane to be sent on the next leg of his or her journey home.
There was nothing else on that plane. The entire plane was
devoted to bringing a hero home. That is the very least we
can do for them is to bring them home with respect and to
cover them with the flag that represents what they died to
defend. Most of us can ask for no more than to take our
final rest under Old Glory.
It gives me a feeling of pride as I drive the streets of
America and see the flag waving from homes and businesses.
It makes me sad to see a tattered flag flying though. The
feelings of pride and patriotism led to the hoisting of the
flag but what led to the disrespect of flying her till she's
falling apart? Do you fly a flag? Have you inspected it
lately? If it is faded or torn then you should retire her
out of respect. Please don't throw her away, your local VFW
or Boy Scout troop will be happy to accept your flag for
retirement and will handle it with respect. Also if you
don't raise and lower your flag daily please place a light
on it so that she doesn't fly in the dark. You can get a
spotlight that plugs into a wall outlet and has a stake to
place it in the ground and you can get a switch that will
turn it on at dawn and off at dusk (especially around
Christmas for outdoor light strings).
Flags were everywhere in the days following 9-11. There
aren't so many now. Why is that? Have we forgotten? Has our
patriotism died? Has our pride of just being American faded
away or are we just concerned that we will offend someone.
How ludicrous is that, that we should be concerned about
offending someone by flying our nation's flag IN OUR OWN
COUNTRY?! Yet another example of PC run amok.
Want to know what the flag means? Watch the disabled WWII
veteran stand up from his wheel chair when the colors are
paraded past during your town's Christmas parade. Present
one in a shadow box to your grandfather and watch his
reaction. Watch everyone outside on a military base stop
what they are doing and salute the flag during morning and
evening colors. Look up "I am Old Glory" by Howard Schnauber
online and read it.
Look down your street. How many houses fly a flag? How many
used to after 9-11? I leave you with this question, if you
don't fly a flag why not?
May God bless you and your families.
ITC Lee Crowson, USN
Chief Crowson is an Information Systems Technician for the
Navy Reserve who is currently serving on active duty at
Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command in New Orleans, LA.
During his career in addition to his role as a
communications operator he has functioned as an instructor
for personnel entering the Navy Reserve with no prior
military experience. His other duties included serving with
Navy Coastal Warfare, a part of Navy Expeditionary Combat
Command, and with Navy Expeditionary Logistics Group
deploying both to the Middle East and to Guantanamo Bay,
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