Letters to the editor

I am a United States of America shredded flag.

I fly from the roof of many typical American homes.

Some time ago, I was new and radiant when they placed me there,

But the wind and rain have reduced me to strings of red, white and blue.

Sometimes I fly from vehicles until I am torn to shreds;

Though I still wave proudly, and can be recognized, I need replaced,

And here is why:

Brave military have carried me into battles in many wars

To save and preserve our nation, and restore peace.

I fly proudly above our military bases and naval vessels

To show that we are, yet today, a nation of strength and honor.

Our veterans, soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard

Still honor me, care for me, protect me and rescue me when torn;

With them, I am in good hands.

When they see that I am weathering from the elements,

They take me down and honorably, ceremonially give me final rest,

And as a service to those citizens who do not seem to know, or do the same,

They do it for them, with great respect and understanding.

I am called “Old Glory,” “The Star Spangled Banner,” and other respected names,

Which make me flow and flutter proudly in the wind;

For I am the true vision of our great nation.

I represent a people who have their freedom;

I remind a people of the sacrifice that we have made to keep it;

I go off to war with the greatest warriors, many who die defending it,

And I grieve when draped over their coffins when they are returned.

I am placed into the hands of their greatest loved ones

To honor them and remember them forevermore.

Those who dishonor me, stomp on me, and burn me, only destroy my cloth;

My meaning, my purpose, my honor and representation still live on;

They cannot be taken away so long as there remains a United States of America.

So, fellow citizens, protect what I stand for, not for me, but for you;

For I am merely dye on cloth with a God Blessed meaning.

Honor me; respect me for what I stand for,

And I will fly over you wherever, and forever!

I am The Stars and Stripes Forever!

— Las Vegas poet and songwriter Col. Paul F. Dudley served in the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II and in the U.S. Air Force.

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