“So we raise her up every morning. And we bring her down slow every night. We don’t let her touch the ground, and we fold her up right. On second thought, I do like to brag, ‘cause I’m mighty proud of that Ragged Old Flag.” – Johnny Cash
In just about every small town USA throughout the country, it is not uncommon to see almost every house displaying Old Glory in front of it. Fifty stars and thirteen bars flapping in the breeze. Every time I pull up to my house, the American Flag we have mounted on our front porch definitely has that warm, home grown feeling to it. For some time now, there has been a challenge on social media called the, “Eric Sheppard Challenge” where people stomp on and desecrate the American flag. Although my (and many others like me) initial reaction is to want to go up to these people and curb stomp them, I take a step back and think to myself, how in the hell did we come to this point?
I always had a theory that the Vietnam style viewpoint never truly went away. It’s been hiding beneath the surface just waiting to rear its ugly face again. Since the Vietnam War ended, the sentiments and attitudes people back home had towards the war and the soldiers returning home, seemed to have blossomed once more. Only this time instead of burning draft cards on college campuses and holding anti-war rallies, people from far and wide have decided to participate in this social media challenge.
I bet a majority of these people don’t know that in some countries outside the U.S, they kill their own citizens for far less things and I can’t even begin to imagine what they would do for trampling on their own country’s flag. The good thing about the First Amendment is that it gives you the right to desecrate the Flag of our Constitutional Republic as freedom of expression but keep in mind that you’re freedom of expression is no more valid than that of those who will call you a disrespectful cunt or just flat out fucking stupid.
A lot of today’s youth that are taking part in this challenge, who were born a couple of years after 1990, are either too young to remember or were never even born when 9/11 happened. They weren’t sitting in the classroom and all of a sudden heard the principal come over the intercom and telling the whole school what had just happened. They didn’t come home afterwards, to our families being glued to the TV and seeing news story after news story of the iconic, terrifying images of the planes flying into the World Trade Center, the huge gaping fiery hole in the Pentagon and the ashes and rubble in that open field in Pennsylvania. Right then and there, we knew even as kids that our world would never be the same again. This is where the disconnect is I think between those of us who served in the GWOT and those who chose to go to college and never did and still would never consider serving.
As people who’ve been on the battlefield in far and austere distant lands, we have a deeper sense of appreciation for the very freedoms that a lot of folk back home seemingly take for granted in this day and age. Those very freedoms that have been paid for, since the founding of this Nation, with blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice by greater warfighters than you or I. The warfighters of today have first-hand knowledge of the selfless service, love, honor, respect and duty given to what so many people today consider, “just a piece of cloth.” That ragged old flag that these ignorant people today are so proud to stomp on and burn, fail to realize that that flag does not represent the current state of affairs in this country nor does it represent the established government. That flag, to us in the veteran community especially, represents an idea. A fundamental ideology of freedom since the founding of our Nation in 1776.
Listen, I get it as far as voicing your opinion and opposition against our government goes. I agree in challenging the status quo of our government and the policies set forth by our elected officials. I do not blindly follow the narrative that the government and the main stream media set in place for their sheeple to follow without question. If you were to ask the veteran community, we too as a whole do not fully agree upon the majority of policies put into action by both the politicians and military leadership. We are just as tired and fed up with living under an administration of government who have their own self-interest in mind and not the best interest of the We The People. We are just as tired and fed up with being pushed to the way side and not having our voices heard.
Seeing videos on YouTube and Facebook of ignorant zealots stomping on and burning of the American flag, all for the purposes of gaining their 5 minutes of internet fame initially does fill me with anger and hate, but it mainly fills me with sadness, fear and worry. That this country, the land I fought for and love so much, is seemingly imploding before my very eyes. That this is the country that my children and grandchildren will have to grow up in. Where, instead of being judged by their character and what’s really important, the only things that will matter are race, political affiliation and what name they may call God. They will see with their own eyes that instead of fighting our enemies, we are and probably will still be fighting amongst ourselves with no end resolution in sight.
But where there is evil, wherever there is fear and hopelessness, there is goodness to rise up against it. So moral of the story is: For those of you folk who want to burn and stomp that flag, remember that men and women of ALL races carried this flag into battle and fought for the freedoms you take advantage of today. True patriots, rise up and show what our flag is all about – hope, freedom, and unity regardless of race.