We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by teaching by word and example how we feel about the flag of our nation.
When parents, leaders, and teachers show proper respect and love for the flag, children and youth understand the importance of it. Flag Day is a special day set apart to remember and honor the Stars and Stripes, the flag of the United States.
I love to see the flag flying, whether it is on my own home, in my neighborhood, or on a government building. I particularly enjoy seeing many flags flying on homes or businesses as I drive down a street. One of my favorite pictures has the Salt Lake Temple centered in a group of flags. This pictures my love for the temple and my love for the United States of America – faith and freedom all in all picture.
Mark Alexander wrote an essay about Flag Day entitled “Flag Day – What Do You See?" It is a long article with lots of interesting information about what he thinks when he sees the Stars and Stripes. About the middle of his essay, he asked a question – what awakens in me today when I see an American flag? As part of his answer, he shared the answer given by Col. Leo K. Thorsness (USAF Ret.), a POW in Vietnam (1967-73) and recipient of the Medal of Honor, when asked that question.
“Let me tell you what I think when I see our flag. As a fighter pilot on my 93rd mission over North Vietnam, my F-105 was hit by an air-to-air missile and my Electronic Warfare Officer Harold Johnson and I were forced to eject. After unsuccessful rescue attempts, we were captured by enemy forces and imprisoned in the infamous `Hanoi Hilton’ for the next six years.
“One day in our sixth year of imprisonment, a young Navy pilot named Mike Campbell found a piece of cloth in a gutter. After we collected some other small rags, he worked secretly at night to piece them together into a flag. He made red from ground-up roof tiles and blue from tiny amounts of ink, then used rice glue to paste the colors onto the rags. Using thread from his blanket and a homemade bamboo needle, he sewed the pieces together, adding white fragments for stars.
“One morning he whispered from the back of our cell, `Hey gang, look here,’ and proudly held up that tattered American flag, waving it as if in a breeze. We all snapped to attention and saluted – with tears in our eyes.
“A week later, the guards were searching our cells and found Mike’s flag. That night they pulled him out of the cell and, for his simple gesture of patriotism, they tortured him. At daylight they pushed what was left of Mike back through the cell door.
“Today, whenever I see our flag, I think of Mike and the morning he first waved that tattered emblem of our great nation. It was then, thousands of miles from home, imprisoned by a brutal enemy, that he courageously demonstrated the liberty it represents, and that is what I see in every American flag today.”
Sunday, June 14, 2015, is Flag Day. Parents, please use the above story or another appropriate one to teach your children what the American flag represents and teach them to always show respect and love towards it. Families, communities, and nations can be strengthened by proper attitudes towards the Stars and Stripes, which is the standard of liberty for the entire world.