When I go to the VA in Houston, I usually have a little crying spell, as I observe the many young Veterans who I know have sustained their wounds in the present conflict. I rush to the restroom, because these heroes do not wish to be pitied, and they won't understand that my tears are about the emotion of knowing such men and women have been willing to stand for me and mine. I cried a little today too as I read of a Wounded Warrior who brought a military event to a reverence it would not have known as he sang The National Anthem along with the others attending. How lightly we sometimes sing the National Anthem at events, perhaps because we have never experienced the rockets red glare.
When my husband speaks before school groups he always starts with having the students stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance. Usually, especially in the higher grades, it is half mumbled. As he winds down his speech on patriotism he tells the story from John McCain's book, Why Courage Matters, of the man who was held prisoner of war with him and tore up T-shirts which were allowed to be sent from home toward the end of their confinement. The shirts were red white and blue, and he used threads pulled from the seams and a bamboo needle he had fashioned to "sew" together a crude flag. Each day the prisoners quietly pledged the flag. Of course their captors eventually found the flag, and a two hour beating followed. It was conducted out of sight, but within clear hearing range for the benefit of the other prisoners. When the man was returned to the cell, the others cleaned the blood off and made him as comfortable as they could. A couple of hours later, the man crawled from his concrete bed, and with his bloodied hands, and through the slits of his swollen eyes, he began making another flag. My husband at this point, to end his speech, asks the students to stand and say the pledge again. There is always a very distinct difference in their participation.
The rendition of the Preamble to the Constitution in the video below, and the singing of You're a Grand Old Flag is given by my grand-daughter, Gabby. She and her sister, Samantha, have been gone to Germany for three years with their father who is active duty Army, and their mother, who served eight years, and now serves in the civilian side. The pictures are of children from their school there in Germany. I was so emotional as I visited last Thanksgiving and stayed with them on the base. To be surrounded by the children of those serving was such a humbling experience for me. So today to all the fathers who are serving around the world, one of your own expressing the patriotism your service has taught her. God bless each one of you on Father's Day, especially those deployed who will not be with their children today.