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From the column of Robert Samuelson in the "Richmond Times-Dispatch",
July 4, 2001 :
. Ironically, the yearning may also reflect fear that patriotism itself is decaying. In his recent book, Making Patriots, constitutional scholar Walter Berns of the American Enterprise Institute worries that it is--in part because Americans forget their history, thereby destroying its importance and power.
.At the end of his book, Berns reprints the story of a foreign diplomat who arrives after-hours for an appointment at a U.S. embassy. The Marine guard asks the diplomat to wait while he lowers the twin American flags. For the next 10 minutes, the Marine smartly marches to each flag pole, slowly lowers the flags, carefully folds them, and places them on a stand. "Thank you for
waiting, Sir," the Marine says when he's finished. "I had to pay honor to my country."
"There was something impressive about a lone Marine carrying out a ceremonial task which obviously meant very much to him,'"wrote the diplomat. "In its simplicity, this made the might, the power, and the glory of the United States of America stand forth in a way that a mighty wave of military aircraft, or the passage of a supercarrier, or a parade of 10,000 men could never have
made manifest." He hoped that one day he could visit one of his own embassies and "see a soldier fold our flag and turn to a stranger and say, 'I am sorry for the delay, Sir. I had to honor my country.' "
July Fourth reminds us of that: the need to honor our country--not just on this day, but every day.
I've known how the 21 gun salute was determined (adding the individual
digits of 1776), but only recently learned why the flag was folded 13 times
when it is lowered or when it is folded and handed to the widow at the burial
of a veteran? Here it is:
The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.
The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our
ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to
attain peace throughout the world.
The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens
trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of
war for His divine guidance.
The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur,
"Our Country, in dealing with other countries may she always be right;
but it is still our country, right or wrong."
The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge
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.
The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed
Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies,
whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.
The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow
of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for
whom it flies on Mother's Day.
The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith,
their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women
who have made this country great has been molded.
The tenth fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and
daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.
The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen represents the lower portion
of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies in their eyes,
the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of
eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.
When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of
our nation's motto, "In God We Trust".
After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance
of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under
General George Washington, and the sailors and marines who served
under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades
and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for
us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.
What follows is the seldom-heard fourth verse of the Star Spangled
Banner, what used to be called "the military verse." It could have
been written for the members of this List and seems especially
appropriate this fourth of July 2001.
Oh thus be it e'er when free men shall stand
Between their lov'd homes and war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that has made and presrv'd us a nation
And conquer we must when our cause 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.
As a schoolboy, one of Red Skelton's teachers explained the words and meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance to his class.
Skelton later wrote down, and eventually recorded, his recollection of this lecture.
It is followed by an observation of his own.
I - - Me; an individual; a committee of one.
Pledge - - Dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self-pity.
Allegiance - - My love and my devotion.
To the Flag - - Our standard; Old Glory; a symbol of Freedom; wherever she waves there is respect, because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts, Freedom is everybody's job.
United - - That means that we have all come together.
States of America- - Individual communities that have united into forty-eight great states. Forty-eight individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose. All divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common purpose, and that is love for country.
And to the Republic - - a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. And government is the people; and it's from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.
For which it stands
One Nation - meaning, so blessed by God.
Indivisible - - Incapable of being divided.
With Liberty - - Which is Freedom; the right of power to live one's own life, without threats, fear, or some sort of retaliation.
And Justice - - The principle, or qualities, of dealing fairly with others.
For All - which means, boys and girls, it's as much your country as it is mine.
And now, boys and girls, let me hear you recite the Pledge of Allegiance:
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America,
and to the Republic, for which it stands;
one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country,
and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance: Under God.
Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said that is a prayer,
and that would be eliminated from schools, too?
To be strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only the best, to work for only the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of evil.