Beads of sweat roll down my face, my legs tense up with each step, my hands grasp the fabric tightly, and I begin to tune out the world. I concentrate on the words spitting out of my fellow midshipman’s mouth in the August heat. I then focus on each step as my combat boots strike the ground.
“Left…Left….Left! Right! Left!”
The mission is clear, and I am ready to go. We continue with perfect cadence.
“Left…Left…Left! Right! Left!”
We cut a sharp left to face an empty flag pole. I pop to attention as every bone in my body freezes. My mind flashes to the thousands of white crosses at Arlington National Cemetery, each representing a life that believed so devoutly in the piece of fabric in my ...view middle of the document...
Many fail to understand the importance and history behind the ensign thus are not capable of capturing the true essence and beauty of Old Glory.
For more than 200 years, the American flag has been the symbol of our nation’s power and unity. The Stars and Stripes have had a unique past, changing over time much like our country has changed. The national flag has been stitched with care, shipped thousands of miles to troops overseas, and loyally raised and lowered everyday in both military and civilian communities. However, the flag has not just been used as a symbol to embody patriotism and loyalty to country. The flag has been taken advantage of and has been used as a tool in political demonstrations to show public distaste for any given issue. The controversial act of flag burning has been debated heavily, yet the act is protected by the First Amendment. The 1960s were the heyday of flag burning in the United States, and even though many Americans sympathized with the politics which prompted the act, few were tolerant of it. It can be argued that the overwhelming lack of public toleration over flag burnings is because the flag has been, and likely will always be, an unchanging, unfailing, and tangible representation of not only the struggles of our country, but also of the liberties and freedoms that are given to all Americans under the Constitution. Just as the flag was raised over the battlefield at Iwo Jima, the flag was also raised over the utter destruction of the World Trade Center, and it continues to be raised over summer camps, picnics, college campuses, courthouses, churches, stadiums, and everything in between. The flag is used for more than leading our brave men and women into battle, so its meaning will always be deeper than what it is perceived on the surface, which is why flag burning strikes the vast majority of Americans as inherently wrong.
Despite the popular reverence of the American flag, episodes of flag burning have occurred throughout history, and many news outlets continue to provide ample coverage over these political demonstrations. As I see the images of the disrespectful act of flag burning, my patriotic heart breaks. Seeing the once-crisp edges up in flames brings me to my breaking point.
It was sixth grade, but the memory is raw and unmarked. A blistering blast hit my cheeks suddenly as I stepped out of the car. I could see my family beginning to gather under the emerald tent, marking the ceremony’s place. I pulled at the collar of my dress and tried to ignore the heat coming from above. My mother stared forward as she tried to blink a mix of sweat and tears out of her already-irritated eyes. As we walked towards the sea of black-clad figures sweating underneath the blue, cloudless sky, I gazed up at the large American flag, and it hit me. He fought for that flag. He woke up every morning to protect that flag. He died for that flag. Throughout the small service at the burial site, my mind focused on that image of...