Did you celebrate the 4th of July?
Did you realize that every day is a day to celebrate our independence, to honor our American flag?
As you read this in 2021, visualize standing on the shore of Baltimore Harbor on September 13th and 14th, 1814 watching the valiant defense of Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore.
As the brutal chaotic battle was blazing in a ferocious firefight and you were wondering if America was still the land of the free because of the brave – praying that our beloved Constitution was still intact as the symbol of guaranteed God-given inalienable rights for all of humanity – you suddenly catch a glimpse of the flag still flying.
It assures every American that the dream is still alive and worth fighting for!
If you were a poet or songwriter, what would you have done?
Every day is flag day
This sight triggered the burst of emotional gratitude and love of country that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words that became the United States’ national anthem.
Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, whose broad stripes and bright stars were so gallantly streaming…
…over Fort McHenry!
Now fast forward to 1988.
It was the state high school conference for the Texans’ War on Drugs held in the gym filled with 2000 teenagers.
A young man strolled up to the microphone, stood on one foot with his left elbow resting on the podium, put his right hand on his stomach, and casually began to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Suddenly a tall, dignified man rose from his chair on the stage and interrupted the young man’s recitation.
My name is General Robinson Risner.
I was the highest-ranking prisoner of war in the Vietnam War.
I spent seven years locked up in solitary confinement. I was tortured beyond belief. I limp because of it.
Today I still have a hole in the front of my skull from the Chinese water torture inflicted on me. I willingly and proudly gave up years of my life defending our flag and our country and all the sacred and wonderful principles they represent.
America is the greatest country on the planet, the international leader of human rights and of the free world. Everyone should show this country and her flag abiding respect.
Hundreds of thousands of American soldiers have died for this flag. This young man’s actions today are a disgrace to everything we hold dear, especially to the very freedom that allows us to gather here today.
Therefore, let’s do this again.
General Risner continued,
When we say the Pledge of Allegiance, we stand at attention. We place our right hands over our hearts, we look directly at the flag, and we say the words with conviction & pride. Please join me.
A respectful silence filled the room.
He then recited the Pledge of Allegiance in a way that I had never before heard – in a way that touched my life forever…
…in a way that taught everyone present the true meaning of patriotism, duty, honor, country, loyalty, service before self, integrity, sacrifice & the personal courage it takes to run towards the sound of the guns!
Our flag is more than a colored cloth; it’s a symbol of freedom
It’s been a few years since that significant experience, yet I vividly remember it every time I see an American flag.
The flag is more than colored cloth.
It symbolizes everything for which America stands – every little thing and every single person that has ever contributed to making America great.
You can be anti-war, anti-Democrat, anti-Republican, and fight for social issues and justice for all – but don’t ever be anti-flag. It’s anti-American.
No one has the right to redefine the meaning and significance of the American flag and use it to represent another cause other than the sacrifices that our brave military men and women make every day…
…to commemorate those Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, and Marines who died so that it can freely fly!
A nine-foot bronze statue of Risner is mounted on a five-foot pedestal of black granite on display in the Air Gardens at the Air Force Academy to commemorate Risner and other prisoners of war who were punished for holding religious services in their room at the Hanoi Hilton on February 7, 1971, in defiance of North Vietnamese authorities.
The statue was made nine feet tall in memory of Risner’s statement, commenting on his comrades singing The Star-Spangled Banner and God Bless America that,
I felt like I was nine feet tall and could go bear hunting with a switch.
Can you now see why every day is Flag Day?
Show gratitude for your rights and freedoms every day
The Stars & Stripes of the American Flag are the symbols of a free republic and democratic society in which we can all celebrate our differences…
And, more importantly, be free to do so. The flag is what binds us together and keeps us believing we can make America better!
The flag is part of you, and it’s part of me…and it waves for all the world to see – everything we have the opportunity to be.
Standing at attention for our flag is critical – to show respect, gratitude, and dignity!
God bless America.
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