Joe MazzolaBy Joe Mazzola

Today is Flag Day– at time to remember our nation’s freedoms and core values. I try to do that regularly.

On Memorial Day, I attended a special ceremony at a small cemetery in the town that I now call home.  It was one of the most touching ceremonies
I’ve ever attended. I felt like I had gone back in time to what I picture as “small town America.” 

A county judge was master of ceremonies…a local Boy Scout Troop led us in the pledge…our community band played the National Anthem…while Knights of Columbus, in full regalia, posted the colors…followed by a riderless horse tribute…then Amazing Grace was performed by the fire department’s bagpipe and drum team…with the mayor and two Congressmen present…and civil war re-enactors doing a rifle volley…an honor roll call of deceased troops buried at the cemetery…and band closing with Battle Hymn of the Republic…as WWII open cockpit trainer circled above us.

One of the two primary speakers was a Vietnam POW.  He described how a fellow prisoner gathered up scraps of thread and then, with a makeshift bamboo needle, sewed a miniature US Flag on the inside of his prison smock.  It was placed on his left side, so it would be resting above his heart with the smock buttoned up.  And, each morning, he’d open his shirt up as his fellow prisoners gathered up to whisper the Pledge of Allegiance.   Wow!

Our flag is more than red, white and blue cloth.  It’s a symbol of our nation. It represents what we stand for and believe in—values like freedom, justice, compassion, equality and respect.  It is flown at embassies and military installations around the world.  It is the backdrop for important ceremonies, like when the President is administered the oath of office.  it was what helped that group of US prisoners of war get through years of captivity and torture in Vietnam.  And, it is what men and women have draped over their coffins when returning home after making “the ultimate sacrifice” for their nation. 

June 14th is Flag Day.  Please remember to pay your respects to our flag today and every day of the year.  And, you might even look for an opportunity to join others in a public setting on Flag Day, like a baseball game or graduation ceremony, to recite the pledge of allegiance…to the flag…of the United States of America…and to the Republic for which it stands…one nation…under God…indivisible…with liberty and justice…for all.”  It really is a grand old flag.