By Gene Cortez
Sometime back I was fortunate to visit the National History Museum in Washington DC. At the entrance and looking up was the biggest flag on display that I had ever seen. It was the same flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the bombardment by British ships hence the inspiration of the Star Spangled Banner, our National Anthem.
When I saw it, it had the original holes made by the cannon balls that passed through it and some burned parts.
Being a military man, I stayed there for a while contemplating what those men at that fort had gone through and thought about my own emotion and the flag that had flown wherever I was stationed during peacetime or combat duty.
Every morning during my military career there had been the bugle calls of the raising of the flag and we were there in formation saluting the flag. It had been drummed into our heads that the flag was forever a symbol not only of freedom but that the color red symbolized a remembrance of our fallen soldiers who shed their blood for that flag.
In the evening, we would stand in formation saluting the same flag when the bugle calls for retreat and it is taken down from the flag pole. No matter what country, post, base, or community, the flag is folded in a distinct manner and with respect. It is done at funerals and given to the relatives of deceased military men or women.
Even today, when I visit a military base around five in the evening, there is still bugle calls for retreat and everybody stops whether you are in a car or just walking in the parking lot. You must render a hand salute or your right hand over your heart and stay like that until the last note is played. Failure to do so will get you a menacing look from the rest of the populace.
I look at it now and it reminds me of my buddies who died on the battleground in Korea and Vietnam defending that freedom.
We render honors to the flag not only on Flag Day but every day because of what it stands for and what every Soldier, Sailor, Marine or Airmen on the battlefield believe what they’re fighting for. Celebrate our Independence Day with that in mind.