I remember some time ago, (I think it was Memorial Day, or was it Veterans' Day?) that people were lined up on both sides of the street for a parade. A high school band was behind me and, naturally, I was leading the parade. When your Daddy saw me coming along waving in the breeze, he immediately removed his hat and placed it so that his right hand was directly over his heart.
And you - I remember you.
Standing there as straight as a soldier, you didn't have any hat, but you were giving me the right salute. Remember, they taught you in school to place your right hand over your heart, and little sister, not to be outdone, was saluting the same as you. There were some soldiers home on leave and they were standing at attention giving the military salute. Oh, I was very proud as I came down your street that day.
Now, I may sound as if I am a little conceited, Well I am!
I have a right to be, because I represent you, the people of the United States of America.
But what happened? I am still the same old flag. Oh, I have a couple more stars added since you were a boy. A lot more stars added since the beginning of this country, and and lot more blood shed since that patroitic day so long ago.
Now I don't feel as proud as I used to. When I come down your street, some people just stand there with their hands in their pockets and give me a small glance and then look away. I see children running around and shouting. They don't seem to know who I am.
Is it a sin to be patriotic anymore? Have some people forgotten what I stand for? Have they forgotten all the battlefields where men have fought and died to keep this nation free? When you salute me you are actually saluting them!
Take a look at the memorial rolls some time. Look at the names of those who never came back. Some of them were friends and relatives of yours. That's whom you are saluting, not me!
Well, it won't be long until I'll be coming down your street again. So, when you see me, stand straight, place your hand over your heart and you'll see me waving back-- that's my salute to you. And then I will know you remember who I am....