You've probably seen the bumper sticker somewhere
along the road. It depicts an American Flag, accompanied by
the words "These colors don't run." I'm always glad to see this,
because it reminds me of an incident from my confinement in
North Vietnam at the Hao Lo POW Camp, or the "Hanoi Hilton,"
as it became known. Then a Major in the US Air Force, I had
been captured and imprisoned from 1967 to 1973. Our treatment
had been frequently brutal. After three years, however, the
beatings and torture became less frequent.
During the last year, we were allowed outside most
days for a couple of minutes to bathe. We showered by drawing
water from a concrete tank with a homemade bucket. One day as
we all stood by the tank, stripped of our clothes, a young Naval
pilot named Mike Christian found the remnants of a handkerchief
in a gutter that ran under the prison wall. Mike managed to sneak
the grimy rag into our cell and began fashioning it into a flag.
Over time we all loaned him a little soap, and he spent
days cleaning the material. We helped by scrounging and
stealing bits and pieces of anything he could use. At night, under
his mosquito net, Mike worked on the flag. He made red and blue
from ground-up roof tiles and tiny amounts of ink and painted
the colors onto the cloth with watery rice glue. Using thread
from his own blanket and a homemade bamboo needle, he sewed
Early in the morning a few days later, when the guards
were not alert, he whispered loudly from the back of our cell, "Hey
gang, look here." He proudly held up this tattered piece of cloth,
waving it as if in a breeze. If you used your imagination, you could
tell it was supposed to be an American flag. When he raised that
smudgy fabric, we automatically stood straight and saluted, our
chests puffing out, and more than a few eyes had tears.
About once a week the guards would strip us, run us
outside and go through our clothing. During one of those
shakedowns, they found Mike's flag. We all knew what would
happen. That night they came for him.
Night interrogations were always the worst. They
opened the cell door and pulled Mike out. We could hear the
beginning of the torture before they even had him in the torture
cell. They beat him most of the night.
About daylight they pushed what was left of him back
through the cell door. He was badly broken; even his voice was
gone. Within two weeks, despite the danger, Mike scrounged
another piece of cloth and began another flag. The Stars and
Stripes, our national symbol, was worth the sacrifice to him. Now
whenever I see the flag, I think of Mike and the morning he first
waved that tattered emblem of a nation. It was then, thousands
of miles from home in a lonely prison cell, that he showed us
what it is to be truly free.
I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Visit My Name is Old Glory!
"Here is something in such simple terms that even you draft-card burning, overgrown hippie anti-war protesters can understand:
Lately I have become concerned about the people I represent. I no longer see the Pride in your eyes that I once seen when I traveled down your streets in the Veterans Day parades and on the 4th of July. The people that once saluted me and those that held their hand over their heart as I passed now just look around to see what others are doing.
Could it be that they don't see me? This is what it must be, because I haven't changed. I am still the same flag that accompanied so many of our countrymen as they defended this great country. As I wave in the breeze I am waving for each and ever one of them. I represent the people of this country and not the disappointment you may have with our Government. I have never had a vote in anything. I stand for the freedom that the people have given to this country.
You are the heroes, not the Government. You are the ones that go to work each day and do what is necessary to see that the children have clothes and shoes and plenty of food. That is why I call you heroes. This is the spirit that I represent. This is why I was created, as a constant reminder to the people of American that with pride in our country and a strong belief in God we can over come any obstacle that is put in our path.
We are still the greatest country in the world. WE ARE AMERICA. So the next time you pass by me just give me a wink or allow a glimmer of pride or just a simple wave to let all the soldiers that have died so you can live free and I can fly free will know that their sacrifice was not in vain.
courtesty of: America Remembers
courtesty of: America Remembers
Other Flag Graphics Courtesy of: