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Symbol of Freedom

The American flag is a symbol of freedom; therefore I call it “Old Glory”. All my life, “Old Glory” has been a great inspiration. Every time I see it flying in the wind I think, “How lucky we Americans are to have the freedom to choose to work, play, pray and live free!”

When I was in school we would talk about the flag. We said allegiance to it. We were taught to respect “Old Glory”.

In July, 1941, I joined the U.S. Army. When I arrived at Angel Island, California on my way to the Philippine Islands – “Old Glory” flew twenty-four hours a day. The breeze from the Pacific Ocean made it wave like I’d never seen it wave before. It was so beautiful. I’ve never seen an ugly “Old Glory”. As we boarded the USS Cleveland – “Old Glory” flew. It would make my heart jump to see it fly above the ship. When we arrived at Pearl Harbor – there was “Old Glory” to welcome us and again, when we arrived at Guam. When we docked at Manila, “Old Glory” also welcomed us.

I was assigned to the 75th Ordinance Company Headquarters in Old Wall City. Our flag detail in charge of raising and lowering the flag was wonderful. The 1st Sgt. made it such a special occasion that I would get on the detail at every opportunity.

When our company would go to Bataan, we would take “Old Glory” with us. The first thing we did upon arrival was to raise “Old Glory”. It waved proudly on our flagpole under an umbrella of large trees in the dense forest. When our detail was complete, we would lower “Old Glory” and place it in a special container. We all showed it great respect. The flag light would be the last thing we would turn out before going to Manila.

World War II started and it was not long before orders came down to turn out the flag light at night. That meant we could not fly “Old Glory” twenty-four hours a day, so we made a light to shine down on it the size of a needle. No one could see it but it did conform to the Flag Code and “Old Glory” flew twenty-four hours a day once more.

The day General King ordered Bataan Troops to surrender, we were told to take “Old Glory” down. As we lowered “Old Glory”, everyone in witness had tears running down their faces. “Old Glory” was folded in its proper form and placed in a special sealed container. We all gathered around and asked God to protect it until we returned to get it. My soul was buried on that hill in Bataan when we lowered “Old Glory” into its grave. We all intended to return for it soon. Our freedom was gone. Some men who died after that never saw “Old Glory” fly again. Little did we know that our “Old Glory” would rest forever. My thoughts went back many, many times as I lay sick, wounded, and half-starved in a slave labor camp of the day we buried “Old Glory” and our freedom. What I would have given to look up and see “Old Glory” flying free in the breeze! Every time one of us died it would remind me of how I felt that day our freedom was taken away. There were no words that I could think of that could have described the feeling inside when my thoughts would drift back to that moment.

On September 2, 1945, we were told that the United States and Japan had signed an agreement to end the war. Some of us would think a few days in Hell would be bad. Can you even begin to imagine 3 ½ years of being beaten, starved and sick most of the time while living like animals in a slave camp without one ounce of freedom and no rights at all?...Knowing that if the Japanese had won the war, half the world would have become slaves for life???

On September 3, 1945, twenty-one of us left the camp we were in. We were on our way to meet the Americans. On September 4th, after riding trains all night, we arrived at General Macarthur’s Headquarters in Yokohama, Japan. As we approached the Grand Hotel, there was “Old Glory” flying high above – it made chills go up and down my back. It welcomed us in Okinawa and in the Philippines. It flew on the USS Pope as we made it back across the Pacific to San Francisco. As we pulled up to the pier, there was “Old Glory” flying high over the land of the free and the brave. The feeling of seeing it fly on American soil was breath-taking – much different that when it was flying over lands other than the USA.

“Old Glory” has flown over many lands but never to conquer and keep. It flew until the people would establish a government by the people and for the people. Then “Old Glory” would be lowered with honor and returned to America.

“Old Glory” needs the protection of our government against any destructive force, be it a person, persons, or any foreign force. An attack against our flag is an attack against our freedom. History has proven that. For anyone to destroy our flag without proper procedure provided by the law should be a crime.

Freedom of speech is subject to its own rules and laws. When speech is used in false statements under oath that is called perjury. To destroy our flag in anger or malice or in any way not allowed by the Flag Code is wrong. To all who think that destruction of our flag can be justified, as an expression covered by the 1st Amendment is a fool. It is a symbol of our freedom and faith in America and should be HANDS OFF to those who wish to destroy it. “Old Glory” is wrapped around our Constitution and the Bill of Rights and neither of them gives any right to destroy our flag.

Those who wish to destroy “Old Glory” will never know how it is to lose their freedom until they have walked in the shoes of the ones that have.

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