Where is Your Flag?

By Lance Pardo

 

I'm a truck driver so its natural you see, a lot of people don't think I accept responsibility. Always on the road, always away from home, just a happy-go-lucky life they think I live. They have no idea how much work driving a truck is or how my life isnít so happy-go-lucky. They also don't understand that home is all around me, and so too are a lot of other things. Take our flag for instance. I see it every-where. It's sprouted up like wheat on the Kansas prairie. Where Is Your Flag?

In fact itís become so common a thing to see, that I am no longer surprised when I see it. In truth it has become fashionable to wear the flag or its banner as a part of your wardrobe. And that is so common that when not seen, others wonder: "Where is Your Flag?"

Trust me, they have no reserve in coming out and confronting someone who isn't wearing the symbol of this great nation. Why just the other day, a man I didn't know approached me in a truck stop demanding to know: "Where is Your Flag?"

I answered him with, "It's right where itís always been." You see I understood his real question, which was "Where is your display of patriotism." He didn't understand my real response because he snapped back at me with this; "Look here now, I'm wearing my flag, where is yours?"

I could see that indeed he was "wearing his flag". It was backward and so askew that I wasn't sure if he was in distress or just unkempt. But, sure enough, he was wearing it.

I answered him again, "My flag is right where it's always been.

And then, I began to wonder: "Where was his flag?"

No, not the one I could see, but the one he couldn't show me.

Where was his flag, on the 10th of September?

Where was his flag, when others like me were standing watch in the snow of Valley Forge?

Where was his flag, when I stood guard at Fort McHenry, on a night filled with fright?

Where was his flag, on the night before the attack on Fort Sumpter, while I sat in wonder at what the morrow would bring?

Where was his flag, in the days proceeding the sinking of the Maine, in Havana Harbor?

And where was his flag, the day before the sinking of the Luisatania, or on Saturday the Sixth of December 1941?

Did he wear his flag, while my father and uncles were braving the foe at Inchon or the Chinese and cold of the Frozen Chosen?

Where was his flag, while I was braving heat and fear in the steaming jungle and rice patties of South Vietnam?

Did he wear his flag, while my brothers and sons were giving it a go in Grenada, or Panama, or Somalia, or Lebanon?

Did he wear his flag, the day before the last war we fought in the Gulf? Back when we took on that self-appointed mastermind of military strategy, Saddam Hussian?

Yes I wondered all this and something else. Why does it take a crisis to bring out the patriotism in most Americans? Now don't misunderstand, I'm proud to see this new display of patriotism and of our flag, I just wonder; "Why it has taken so long."

But I could see he was still waiting to hear where my flag was, so I answered him again, "My flag is right where itís always been."

And then I proceeded to tell him how I was wearing my flag.

"See here friend, here on my hat. These are the symbols of my flag. I wear them all the time. This ribbon is representative of the Purple Heart Medal. It is given in time of war to those who have shed blood in our nation's service. Here is the Combat Action Ribbon; it represents service in combat with an armed and deadly enemy. Here is the Vietnam Service Ribbon, it shows in what theater of war I served."

"So how do these ribbons represent my flag? Well lets look at them again. The Purple Heart is the RED of my blood shed in combat. The Vietnam Service represents the WHITE of my gallantry, honor, and valor, for my willingness to enter into combat in an "unpopular war" that others might live free." The Combat Action is the BLUE of my courage and patriotism shown in my acceptance that I might die in that combat.

"Now look at these devices. Here is the device showing that I served as an Officer in the Coast Guard. And this device shows that I am a Chief Warrant Officer. Together all these things represent over twenty years of service to my country."

Then I said to him, "There my friend, is my Flag. I wear it proudly for all to see."

He slunk away in shame and I thought: "Here again is another of the "sunshine patriots"." Maybe even one of the hippie war protesters. His flag to wave so long as we are in "popular" danger, then put away until the next crisis. He'll never know the honor he's denied himself. The rights he's turned away from. Or the gallantry and valor of standing up and being counted when it truly mattered. He will continue to "wear his flag" but it will not have the dignity of mine, and he'll always wonder, "where is my flag".

I know I need never hide my face in shame for not wearing "MY FLAG". Yes, it's right where itís always been, flying to the fore. I wear it proudly for all to see.

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