Today we had a retirement ceremony in work for our Lt. Col. Deputy Director. He is retiring after 24 years of service, and it was a lovely ceremony. I’ve been to many of them over the years; some being very short, sweet and to the point – and others, truly emotional fests complete with not a dry eye in the audience.
This morning’s ceremony was somewhere in the middle. It was very personalized and loving, yet short and not overly drawn out. One of the nicest portions of it in my opinion, outside of the fact that the family is just lovely – was the flag ceremony. I’ve seen several of them, but they are generally flag folding ceremonies. This one was a little different; there was no folding of the flag – it was already folded. But it was passed from service member to service member, and then ended with the Lt. Colonel passing it onto his young son who is an ROTC cadet.
The words that were read, I don’t recall ever hearing previously although it may just be that for whatever reason they resounded with me stronger today than in previous times. And I thought it would be nice to share here. (I apologize in advance for the formatting. I’m copying and pasting it – and it was in all caps. I’m truly not yelling it!)
I AM THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
I STAND FOR FREEDOM!!
I AM CONFIDENT, I AM ARROGANT, I AM PROUD.
WHEN I AM FLOWN WITH MY FELLOW BANNERS, MY HEAD IS HELD A LITTLE HIGHER
I BOW TO NO ONE!
I STAND GUARD WITH THE GREATEST MILITARY POWER IN THE WORLD.
I STAND FOR PEACE, HONOR, TRUTH, AND JUSTICE
FOR MORE THAN 225 YEARS, I HAVE FOUGHT IN EVERY BATTLE OF EVERY WAR;
GETTYSBURG, SHILOH, APPOMATTOX, SAN JUAN HILL, THE TRENCHES OF FRANCE, THE ARGENNE FOREST, ANZIO, ROME, THE BEACHES OF NORMANDY THE JUNGLES OF GUAM, OKINAWA, A SMALL HILL ON IWO JIMA, TARAWA, KOREA, VIETNAM, IN THE HEAT OF THE ARABIAN GULF, AFGHANISTAN, IRAQ …TO NAME A FEW. LONG FORGOTTEN BY ALL, BUT THOSE WHO WERE WITH ME.
I WAS THERE.
I HAVE BEEN SOILED BURNED TORN AND TRAMPLED
IT DOES NOT HURT FOR I AM INVINCIBLE.
I SHALL OVERCOME FOR I AM STRONG!!
I HAVE SLIPPED THE SURLY BONDS OF EARTH AND, FROM MY VANTAGE POINT ON THE MOON,
I STAND WATCH OVER THE NEW FRONTIERS OF SPACE.
I HAVE BEEN THE SILENT WITNESS TO ALL OF AMERICA'S FINEST HOURS.
BUT MY FINEST HOUR COMES WHEN I AM TORN INTO STRIPS, USED AS BANDAGES FOR MY WOUNDED COMRADES ON THE FIELD OF BATTLE.
WHEN I FLY HALF-MAST TO HONOR MY MILITARY MEMBERS AND WHEN I LIE IN THE TREMBLING ARMS OF A GRIEVING MOTHER - AT THE GRAVESIDE OF HER FALLEN SON OR DAUGHTER
I AM PROUD!
MY LEGACY, MY TRADITIONS, MY BURDENS AND MY HOPES FOR A BRIGHTER FUTURE
HAVE BEEN PASSED FROM FATHER TO SON SINCE THE DAWN OF OUR GREAT NATION
MY NAME IS "OLD GLORY"
LONG MAY I WAVE DEAR GOD,
LONG MAY I WAVE.