For most Americans when they see the flag they think of the US and all it stands for. For some seeing it reminds them of all the men and women who fought to make and keep this nation what it is. I suppose the same is true for all nations people when they view their flag. It is a symbol of pride.
I have flown a flag on my house with pride in my nation, it's history and with hope for it's future for a long time. But now more than ever when I look on it I can not help but think of all those who have fought and died to make this country what it is. It's more than a symbol to me. It is what my son stood for. What he believed it. It stands for freedom, liberty, and sacrifice. Nothing comes for free. There is always a cost. And the price of this nation is the blood, sweat and tears of those who believed in it so strongly that they fought and died for this nation and trying to give a small piece of it to others around the world.
On July 4th 2009 a Pennsylvania National Guard unit stationed at Taji Iraq flew a US flag in honor of my son. This was arranged by a dear friend, Sgt. Steven Ryersbach, who I met through my adopting soldiers habit. Today the flag arrived in the mail. I now have two flags that honor my son. And both hold as much meaning as the other. One was from a grateful nation given to me at my son's funeral and the one that came today was from his brothers who never met him. But who stand for the same things he did. By doing this for me I am comforted to know that my son is not forgotten. That even in Iraq there are men who never knew him and never met me except through emails that remember him. His spirit lives on in these men and all those who serve. They share a common mission and values.
What the person who flew this flag and honored my son does not realize is that July 4th, 2006 was my son's first official day of bootcamp... his first official day of being a soldier. He had been in a holding unit until that day although he had arrived at Ft Benning several days before.
So now each morning as I step outside to fly my flag I am going to do it with more emotion than ever. As it flaps and snaps in the wind I will hear the voices of the past, present and the future. And I will remember that a man in Iraq cared enough to give me this gift. And I will remember my son and be inspired.