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“O! Thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”

And the Star - Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

Do you know where the above words can be found?


When we sing the Star Spangled Banner at public events, the first verse is the only one used, but when you read the words from a following verse, we find more meaning for us as citizens of the United States.


Our family celebrated Independence Day at Lake Hickory in North Carolina. We try to make it an event that will be remembered by all who are present. This year, as dusk fell over the lake, we held a retirement ceremony for badly worn flags. Every person present had a part in the ceremony, from the youngest of three years old to the oldest at 80. The group was divided into pairs, each with an adult and a young person. The event was planned by two veterans of our armed services, Todd Rhodes and Lynn Gilbert.


The traditional method of retirement is to incinerate the flag, but this does not mean carelessly tossing it in a fire. A flag ceases to be a flag when it is cut into pieces. It should never be torn, but cut with scissors in a methodical manner. It is more than a brightly colored cloth . . . it is the symbol of our nation. The flag being retired had been flying over Enon Cemetery in Calhoun County. The cemetery is the resting place for very early settlers of our county and those who continued to fight for our freedom through the years.


Seven red stripes and six white stripes together represent the original 13 colonies that gained us liberty. The red stripes remind us of the lifeblood of the brave citizens who were willing to die for our country. The white stripes remind us of purity and cleanliness of purpose, thought, word and deed. The blue is for truth and justice, like the eternal blue of the star-filled heavens. The stars represent the 50 states of our union. The American Creed states, “It is my duty to my country to love it, to respect its constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.”


The attention and reverence of the multi-aged group of participants was something to observe. Several spoke of their devotion to the ideas set forth by our forefathers.

Remember Me?

Remember me? Some people call me Old Glory, others call me the Star Spangled Banner, but whatever they call me, I am your flag, the flag of the United States of America.


Something has been bothering me, so I thought I might talk it over with you--because it is about you and me.


I remember some time ago, people would line up on both sides of the street to watch the parade, and naturally, I was leading everyone, proudly waving in the breeze.


When your Daddy saw me coming, he immediately removed his hat and placed it against his left shoulder so that his hand was directly over his heart--remember?


And you, I remember, were standing there, straight as a soldier. You didn’t have a hat, but you were giving the right salute. Remember your little sister? Not to be outdone, she was saluting the same as you with her right hand over her heart--remember?


What happened? I’m still the same old flag. Oh, I’ve added a few more stars since you were a boy, and a lot more blood has been shed since those parades of long ago.


But now, somehow I don’t feel as proud as I used to feel. When I come down the street, you just stand there with your hands in your pockets. You may give me a small glance, and then you look away. I see children running around you shouting; they don’t seem to know who I am.


I saw one man take his hat off, then he looked around, and when he didn’t see anybody else take off his hat, he quickly put his on again.


Is it a sin to be patriotic today? Have you forgotten what I stand for, and where I have been? Anzio, Guadalcanal, Korea and Vietnam!


Look at the memorial honor rolls, and see the names of those patriotic Americans who gave their lives to keep this republic free. When you salute me, you are actually saluting them!


So when you see me, please stand straight and place your hand over your heart, and I’ll know that you remembered. I’ll salute you by waving back!


*          *          *          *          *

Veterans of the Army of the United States who were present and honored for their service were:


--Corporal Alan Icenhour of Hickory, who had three years service with the regular army, one year with the National Guard, and two years with the Army Reserves.


-- Lt. Commander Lynn Gilbert of Calhoun County, who had 12 years with the Army Reserves and 18 months active duty with the Public Health Service at FCI/Gilmer.


--Sergeant First Class Todd Rhodes of Calhoun County and Hickory, who has 26 years with the Army Reserves and National Guard. He last served in Mozul, Iraq, with the 505 Engineering Battalion.


Left to right, Todd Rhodes, Lynn Gilbert and Alan Icenhour.


Left to right, Todd Rhodes, Jessie Barber, Emily Rhodes and Sarah Spencer prepare the flag for retirement.

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