I've been to the moon. I' ve been burned. But more often I'm honored. I'm your American flag. With 13 stars for colonies clamoring for freedom, I was first flown at Fort Stanwix in New York in 1777 - and then carried into battle for the first time at Brandywine in Pennsylvania. By war's end, I was saluted as the emblem of a sovereign nation, new and free. I'm your American flag.
But challenges lay ahead. With 15 stars and 15 stripes, I survived shock and shell at Fort McHenry in Baltimore in 1814. With the aid of rockets' red glare and bombs bursting in air, I was spied from afar at dawn's early light by a patriot poet. I was then celebrated in sight and song by a fledgling nation. I'm your American flag.
A half-century later and with 33 stars and 13 stripes, I was saddened to see our nation divided. Our brothers' blood was spilled in battle north and south. But by war's end, President Lincoln's iconic words at Gettysburg prevailed - a unique nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. But that pledge was yet to be fulfilled.
I survived mustard gas and ghastly death in European trenches in WWI; I was carried into battle over frozen turf in Korea; I lost sons and daughters in the rice paddies and hell's jungles of Vietnam; I witnessed renewed conflict about taking me to faraway lands like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Often I'm inconspicuous, standing silently in the corner of a meeting hall or classroom but indeed I've fallen from favor for some incensed by actions our government takes. But I suffer in silence when abused or defiled for I represent all of our rights, including protesting and speaking our minds.
Most of all I represent the American spirit, our yearning for freedom, excellence and opportunity, I am not the flag of a ruling regime or royal family. I am the American flag, representing rights emanating from a higher and transcendent authority honored on our coinage.
Look up to me when you salute or stand at attention. Pledge yourself to fulfill lofty goals symbolized by my heavenly sky-blue field for 50 stars. Look up and salute with pride what the patriot poet hailed as a worthy star-spangled banner. May it forever wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Above was Written by James F. Burns, Gainesville, Florida. Editor's note: James F. Buns is a retired professor from the University of Florida......Posted on: July 4, 2016
May you all have a very special 4th of July Holiday!
I Have worn many hats in my day: Nursing Home Assistant Admin and Activities Director, Assisted Living Admin, Case Management for the State-wide Medicaid Program, and Trainer for Dept of Elder Affairs.