Some people call me Old Glory, others call me the Star-Spangled Banner, but whatever they call me, I am your flag, the flag of the United States of America.
I remember some time ago people lined up on both sides of the street to watch the parade and naturally, I was always there, proudly waving in the breeze.
When your daddy saw me coming, he immediately removed his hat and placed it over his heart. Remember? And you, I remember you standing there straight as a soldier. You didn’t have a hat but you were giving the right salute.
Remember your little sister? Not to be outdone, she was saluting the same as you, with her hand over her heart. Remember?
What happened? I’m still the same old flag. Oh, I have added a few more stars since you were a boy, and a lot more blood has been shed since those parades of long ago. But I don’t feel as proud as I used to. When I come down your street, you just stand there with your hands in your pockets. I may get a small glance but then you look away.
I see the children running around and shouting. They don’t seem to know who I am. I saw one man take off his hat and look around. He didn’t see anybody else with his hat off so he quickly put his back on. Is it a sin to be patriotic? Have you forgotten what I stand for and where I’ve been? Anzio, Normandy, Omaha Beach, Guadalcanal, Korea and Vietnam.
Take a look at the memorial honor rolls some time. Look at the names of those who never came back in order to keep this republic free. One nation under God. When you salute me, you are actually saluting them.
Well, it won’t be long until I’ll be coming down your street again. So, when you see me, stand straight, place your right hand over your heart. I’ll salute you by waving back. And I’ll know that you remembered.
This poem was originally published in an Ann Landers column in Stars and Stripes.