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January 27, 2022

Worthy to Print Column | Respect for Our Flag

The other day I had invited one of my best friends to come down from Oregon to have lunch and just catch up. Gordon has a son that lives off the grid up in Oregon, and so he spends a lot of time up there. We both served in Vietnam and so our conversations often drift to that war and how we could have done it better.

Of course, that was before Biden and his crew decided to get our troops out of Afghanistan. We often talk about how we could have done what we were sent to do over in Asia a lot better if we were given a little leeway. But like Afghanistan, the soldiers were sent to clean up what some politician started. Massive loss of lives means little to these cretins. They just hold out their hands to the companies that make war materials, like guns, bullets and bombs, fill their pockets and retire with a job at one of the companies that made millions off the blood of young men and women. But that is not what this missal is all about. 

After we had a wonderful lunch at Luigi’s, we were driving down Fifth Street when I noticed a piece of cloth hanging from some of the letters on the American Legion building. As we got closer, I could make out that it was an American flag draped in shame, hanging limp in the afternoon sun.

I have been sharing with you, dear readers, for many years how protective I am about The Flag of our nation. How you don’t drop it on the ground, deface it or display it when it is threadbare as this piece of cloth that we noticed that afternoon. I asked Gordon to stop so I could retrieve the bleached out nylon flag. You could see that someone had hung this flag at some time in the past and when it began to show the wear and tear of our Gonzales wind, they discarded it. 

I’ll admit that I didn’t fold it per recommendations, but just placed it on the seat and brought it home. I was thinking some pretty dark thoughts when it occurred to me that whoever placed the flag on the iron letter may have been more correct than I thought. You see, one of the most solemn jobs required of a member of the American Legion is to dispose of a worn flag when they have lost the thrill one gets when it is flown in all its red, white and blue majesty. So I just told myself that whoever had left that worn and torn flag on the letters on the outside of the Legion Post must have known that it would be disposed of correctly.

I can remember telling my children when they were very young about The Flag and how much it means to a veteran or citizen of the United States. How we don’t display our flag if it is not in good order. No holes or tears or worn spots. How it is disposed of and how it is presented to the survivors and heirs of a soldier lost to us before their time. It is also a piece of our homeland when we are sent to a foreign land. 

I had written our congressman about how cool it would be if I had a flag that had flown in our capital. I had heard that some of our elected members of Congress had mentioned they would be happy to send one to any soldier in the field. Well, by golly, I sent a letter to Vince Fong, who was representative of Bakersfield during that part of the war. I told him how cool it would be if he were to send us a flag. Not only did he send us a flag, he sent one that had been displayed on top of the Capitol Building. 

I had told him we needed a flag to remind us who we were fighting for. This was before I found out that the government had no intention of winning the war. It was a pretty hefty flag and it was hung whenever we went to the rear. We did display it a couple of times after patrol when we had stopped for the night; however, it was decided that we didn’t want a brilliant blue, white and red piece of cloth rippling in the wind that would surely be seen from far away and tell Charley where we were. While we had it, we relished the flag and felt a little closer to the land that we had left to go to Vietnam.

Most service men and women consider the flag a visible reminder that we are fighting for the folks back home. We know that some day we may have a flag draped over our final resting place, and I have never heard of a family of the deceased refusing that honor. If you do display an American Flag at your house, please remember that it is almost a sacred item to those that have served. They would not be happy if you were to treat it as a car wipe or some other piece of cloth. 

I should tell you now that if you have a flag that has lost its glory, you can drop that one off at the Legion Hall on Fifth Street, so it will be given the respect it deserves as it is destroyed. If you can’t get it to the Legion Hall, just drop it off at City Hall and tell them I asked you to do that. I will retrieve the flag and take it to the Legion for you.

Thank you in advance, and to the person that dropped off the flag that I saw and took custody of, I want to thank you for doing that and not just finding a dumpster to throw it in. Many fine men and women have died to give you the right to do as you like with a worn out flag, but the preferred way is to let the Legion do their duty. It is the preferred way.

Don’t forget a little prayer for those Americans that our president left in Afghanistan. They cannot fly the flag where they are.

God Bless.

George Worthy
Gonzales Columnist
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