Frank J. Montoya

I AM YOUR FLAG

I am your Flag. I was created on June 14th 1777. I am the symbol of our great Nation. My stars and stripes represent the 50 states and the 13 original colonies. I was there when our intrepid Minutemen secured our independence at Yorktown in 1781.

I survived the bursting bombs and rockets as I waved defiantly over Fort McHenry one night during the War of 1812. My presence there, still, at dawn inspired Francis Scott Key to write our National Anthem, The Stars and Stripes.

I witnessed the surrender of General Santana and the triumphant march of American Troops into Mexico City at the end of the Mexican War in 1847.

I was carried by a bold and loyal trooper to the top of San Juan Hill in Cuba and I flew over occupied Manila in the Philippines Islands at the end of the Spanish-American war in 1848.

I watched in horror as brother fought against brother, friend fought against friend, as American fought against American in that most grievous conflict, our Civil War, the War Between the States. I was there when Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox at war’s end in 1865.

I went “Over There” with the Doughboys in 1917 and fluttered in the morning breeze as the last lingering fumes of poison gas slowly wafted out of the trenches. I watched breathlessly as the troopers cautiously removed their gas masks then gratefully gulped in lungfuls of cool fresh air.

I was unfurled on countless Flagships, from Carriers and Battleships to PT Boats as our daring combat troops invaded the shores of Italy, France and an infinite number of Islands in the South Pacific. I wept over the loss of 6000 courageous Americans as I was raised over the bloody soil of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima by a gallant handful of war-weary Marines. I toured the entire planet with our Armed Forces in their quest to defeat the Axis Powers during World War II.

In Korea, I rippled proudly in the wind as I watched a contingent of fearless Marines hit the beach at Inchon and I accompanied both them and the Eighth Army all the way North to the Yalu River at the Chinese border. Still today, after 50 years I am raised daily to watch over “No Man’s Land” at the 38th Parallel, as our troops stand ready to defend anew that small democratic nation.

I felt anger, shame, disgrace and dishonor as I was set on fire. Not in the streets of some foreign country, not by one of our enemies… but by young Americans, on our own city streets, protesting our involvement in the War in Vietnam, as thousands of their countrymen, over 58,000 in all, were making the ultimate sacrifice in the name of Freedom in that far-off land.

I still stand tall on the stark, rocky surface of the moon where I was placed by daring astronauts in the early days of space exploration.

I was flown sadly, at half-mast in memory of the 140 plus Marines killed by cowardly terrorists in the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983.

I was burned, spat upon, and desecrated as I helplessly watched the bodies of brave American Soldiers being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia in 1994. Their only sin: To help bring peace to that war-torn country.

I was waving, contentedly, atop the Destroyer USS Cole, during a good-will visit to the port of Yemen in October, 2000 when a terrorist bomb ripped a gaping hole in the destroyer’s side, killing 17 young, unsuspecting American Sailors.

I watched in sorrow, shock and disbelief as thousands of innocent people of many different nations perished in the destruction of the Twin Towers at the hands of mindless terrorists on that fateful day, September 11th, 2001, however, I was soon to be raised amid the devastation of what had once been the World Trade Center by a few tired, weary, but stout-hearted firefighters as they and a number of New York’s Finest searched frantically for signs of life, and I was quickly draped over the wall of the Pentagon in Washington to show the world that the attack on our military nerve center, although at a high cost in American lives, did little to weaken our defense posture and determination.

Today I wave proudly over our military installations in Afghanistan and throughout the world, and on all our ships at sea, as we seek out the terrorists; as we endeavor to disarm and disempower those that would deprive us of our precious Freedoms and who would unhesitatingly destroy our way of life, even at the cost of their own.

I am your Flag. Will you honor me? Will you respect, preserve, and protect me from all enemies, both foreign and domestic? Will you pledge allegiance to me and to the Republic for which I stand? If I can be sure of this then I can continue to be as the beacon of a lighthouse, radiating Liberty’s Light out to every corner of the Earth, beckoning everyone to join with all freedom loving people to help form a more perfect world where Flags of all Nations can wave, side by side, in peace and harmony.