Today’s blog comes from the Rankin Senior Counselor Katie Dorminey. Katie is a 26 year member of the American Legion Auxiliary and is currently a Lieutenant in the United States Army. Today’s blog provides insight into what the American Flag means to her and the importance of respecting and honoring the flag. Throughout the week at the American Legion Auxiliary Empire Girls State program participants will participate in a variety of activities and ceremonies that promote Americanism and respect for the American Flag.
Sometimes, the American Flag comes off of the coffins of military service members, police, firefighters, and other civil servants who paid an ultimate price in order to protect American people. During those sobering occasions, the flag is draped over the coffin of the lost, and is carried into the funeral ceremony on the shoulders of the Fallen’s Brothers and Sisters in Arms- – other Public Servants . Next, another group of the service member’s brothers and sisters lift the Flag off of the coffin, and then with great deliberation and reverence, fold this flag neatly into a triangle. One of the members carefully takes the flag and, after closely holding it to their heart, hands the flag to the Family of the Fallen.
If you cannot show reverence to “just a flag”, then perhaps you can express some gratitude to the little boy who lost his mother when she was caught in an accident while fighting in Iraq. Or perhaps to the wife of the firefighter who had gone bravely into a falling building to ensure someone else’s safety and did not come back out. If you cannot feel gratitude when you see the stars and stripes, perhaps you can feel gratitude to the thousands and thousands of young men who suffered through long, arduous tours in Europe and central Asia, solely because their moral calling to protect the American People was stronger than their fear of what lay ahead.
I say these things not to spread guilt or shame. It took me a long time to fully understand what I was really looking at when I was looking at the American Flag, and that understanding continues to deepen and shift as I grow up. When I look at the Flag now, or have the opportunity to sing the Star Spangled Banner or say The Pledge of Allegiance, I take it very seriously. And I expect those around me to take this seriously. If you can’t honor a Red, White, and Blue banner, I hope that you can at least pay respect to your neighbors who have placed your well being in higher priority than their own.