Royce Kelley

Hello ... remember me? Some people called me Old Glory, some call me the Star Spangled Banner. Whatever they call me, I am your flag, the flag of the United States of America. But, something's been bothering me, so I thought I might talk with you, because it is about you and me.

I remember, some time ago, people lined up on both sides of the street to watch the parade, and naturally I was leading every parade, waving proudly in the breeze. When your Daddy saw me coming, he immediately removed his hat and placed his hand directly over his heart ... remember? And I remember you. Standing there straight as a soldier! You didn't have a hat but you are giving the right salute. Remember little sister? Not to be outdone, she was saluting the same as you, with her right hand over her heart ... remember?

What happened? I'm still the same old flag! Oh, I have a few more stars since you were a boy, a lot more blood has been shed since those parades of long ago. But, now I don't feel as proud as I used to. When I come down the street, you just stand there with your hands in your pockets. I may get a small glance and 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 his hat off, then look around. He didn't see anyone else doing it, so he quickly put his hat back on.

Is it a sin to be patriotic anymore? Have you forgotten what I stand for, and where I've been? Anzio, Guadalcanal, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and now Afganistan. Take a look at the memorial honor roll some time. The lists of those who never came back in order to keep this republic free, One Nation Under God. When you salute me, you were actually saluting them.

Well, it won't be long until you see me coming down your street again. So, when you do see me, stand straight, place your right hand over your heart and I will salute you by waving back. And I'll know that you remember! Remember to display and salute your flag on June 14, Flag Day.

Royce Kelley is commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Frank C. High Medal of Honor Post #3440 in Bandon.

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