I remember as kids how our parents would take us into White Plains to see the various parades—the sidewalks were jammed with folks waving small American flags! When I saw the honor guard marching with our beloved flag, I was so proud of my country, of our armed forces, of what we stood for. That pride and dignity couldn’t have been more apparent than at Art’s gravesite as I watched two young Marines silently fold the flag that had covered his coffin.

On this Flag Day, I was interested in finding out what our American flag means to others, specifically veterans—I knew how proud Bud and Art had been to serve their country. I found what I needed on the USMilitary.com website in an article written by Kim Lengling.

An Army veteran (like Bud) shared this: “Our flag is the symbol of the things we as Americans hold in our hearts and minds. Having the privilege to serve this country gave me the opportunity to show the love I have for it and the pride we have defending it.”

Sign Up for E-News

A Navy veteran (I think of my brother) had this to say: “I know veterans who sacrificed it all for our flag. However, I do fight the bad decisions that others may make that affect our men and women in uniform wearing the American flag. Just as we walk in our faith, we must remain vigilant in honoring what America stands for or once stood for.”

A Marine (this is Art) reflected that “he spent four years protecting that flag and our way of life. There are days that it stirs something within my heart: pride, respect and awe, knowing what so many have given and continue to give to this great country.”

The pictures of firemen and policemen hoisting the flag at Ground Zero will never be forgotten. How many more times have people viewed the flag during conflicted times and it provided a sense of hope when all hope seemed lost?

The American flag is a symbol of valor, purity, innocence, vigilance, perseverance and justice. It is a symbol of sacrifice and freedom fought for over decades; that freedom has cost America and its families terrible losses.

I will defend to the end my right to fly the American flag, the symbol of our country, whether from my house or from my car and to recite the Pledge of Allegiance with my hand over my heart.

This is my right as an American, my privilege and my honor. God bless the United States of America!

Ruthann can be reached at grandmopps@aol.com.