Letter: Thank you to those who fly the flag | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: Thank you to those who fly the flag

Flag Day falls toward the bottom of the popularity lists of National Holidays. I never questioned its origin until I read a few days ago that it commemorates June 14, 1777, when the Second Continental Congress approved the design of our flag.

A few years later they realized a mistake had been made after Vermont and Kentucky joined the Union and the flag had 15 stars and 15 stripes. So an amendment was made that the stripes would remain at 13 to represent the 13 original colonies. Imagine a flag with 50 stripes.

I learned a couple years ago that the only soldier I have kept in contact with since Vietnam was a nephew of Hiroshi “Hershey” Miramura, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient from the Korean War. He received his medal after he was released from a Korean POW camp. Vincent H. Okamoto, who was a decorated combat veteran of Vietnam, an inductee into the Ranger Hall of Fame, and a Superior Court Judge for Los Angeles, wrote a book about “Hershey,” titled “Forged in Fire, The Saga of Hershey and Joe.”

In that book is this passage explaining the moment of Hershey’s release: “The men got off the truck and began to walk. No one yelled or shouted. No one looked back. Their pace quickened as they approached a line where men in American uniforms shouted and waved. All the repatriated POWs were placed in ambulances. As they approached the American flag, Hershey and several other men felt hot tears running down their faces. That red, white and blue piece of cloth waving in the wind symbolizes life and hope. It represented everything that was dear to them: their families, friends and loved ones.

It stood for what they had fought for and the horrors they had endured. And it flew as a tribute to the brave men who had died to keep it flying. Hershey knew he would fight to the death before he let anyone haul down that flag.”

If memory serves me right, it was in the book about Sen. John McCain’s POW experience that I read where a fellow POW constructed an American flag from scraps of cloth. It was kept hidden, but the inmates would recite the Pledge of Allegiance to that flag.

The flag was not perfect when created and neither was our nation. But many of us think that both are second to none. I am saddened when presidents and governors make political statements by ordering the flag to half staff. In my opinion, that reduces the significance of the act. Thank all those who fly the flag.

Gary Burkholder


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