What does your FLAG tell others?

Flag-and-photo-JPGI had a moving experience that has me musing—unexpectedly—about the meaning of our Memorial Day holiday coming up this weekend. Recently I went to see one of my closest and dearest friends, Bambi Jean Beeman Dunlap, for the weekend. Although I’ve known her well for 30 years, I’d never met her father—until this visit.

What an experience! Harry Beeman is a World War II veteran who served on the U.S.S. Ellet (in the Pacific Fleet) from December 1941 through October 1945. He wears his patriotism like he wore his navy uniform. We hugged upon meeting each other at the Chattanooga, TN airport. He was wearing his “flag shirt” (he has 17 of these shirts!!) and WWII hat decorated with military awards. This left me with no doubts about his sentiments. Harry being quite the raconteur, I spent much of my weekend enthralled by his stories of “being on the guns” and his many life altering wounds. I listened intently while he expressed deep feelings about the significance of the American flag.

There’s nothing like a completely new perspective to shift your own view. Have you thought about the significance of the American flag recently? Have you really ever given it much thought? I certainly haven’t. The flag is literally just a piece of cloth, but to Harry Beeman, and the veterans of the United States of America, the fortitude and resilience of our nation is wrapped in every American flag. With tears in his eyes, Harry made sure I understood that he believes the flag represents: the American Spirit. 

Our flag has gone through changes during our country’s history, and it’s flown over too many battles. Even our national anthem, Francis Scott Key’s Star Spangled Banner, recounts the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships in the Chesapeake Bay during the War of 1812. “…the rockets’ red glare gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”

Which brings us to Memorial Day. Most of us think of it as the holiday that kicks off summer. We have a three-day weekend. We barbeque. But after talking with Harry, I remembered that’s not what Memorial Day is about. Memorial Day is for honoring military personnel who died in the service of OUR country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. It actually began as Decoration Day a few years after the Civil War. It was a day for the nation to decorate the graves of those who had died due to war, with flowers. The timing was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

I have been so moved by Harry’s stories of the wartime experiences that changed his life. At 90 years of age, he flies his flag every day (and regularly wears his “flag shirts” and WWII hat). He embodies the flag and lives the American Spirit.

So what does your flag tell others? Is your flag tattered and torn? Or is your flag completely intact, vibrant with color and flying proudly? No matter where you go and no matter what you do, you are your FLAG!! What does your American Spirit tell others?

This Memorial Day, when you see the American flag, first take a moment to remember those who sacrificed for us. And then, think about your American Spirit and what it means to you.

As you go about your days with your family, friends and co-workers, be honest with yourself–what does your FLAG tell them about you?

What are you doing yesterday, today and tomorrow to live your American Spirit… to fly your flag with honor, reverence and fortitude to live the life you truly desire?

So, this Memorial Day weekend, thank a Veteran and let me know what happens to your flag when you do so!! Leave your comments below.

5 Responses to What does your FLAG tell others?

  1. Thank you Harry and to all veterans who have served to protect our great nation and for the cause of freedom. We must never forget those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for others!”

  2. Mary,
    Great article. My Dad served in General Patton’s 3rd Army, Battle of the Bulge. He never spoke much about the war other than “it had to be done.” I do remember him sharing one time, “truck loads of dead bodies, ours and theirs that he’ll never forget”. He was a quiet man about such matters. Much like Harry, my Dad was in for what they called, “the duration”. When you think about the time of his life, he gave……….as many veterans did, their best years. God bless them, our Country and Flag! Thanks for sharing. May God Bless America!

  3. HEY GIRL ! Great article ! ! ! I had no idea that you had known Bambi this long and never met her father. Iam another person big on flying the flag.Chad heard me say that I was going to get one shortly after he joined the navy and surprised me with a realy nice one for christmas that year and helped me dig the hole for the steel bar reenforced concrete base.(You know me.You could have burried a voltswagon in it. ) It will be there long after we are dead. Someone in years to come may pull the flag pole out of its sleeve, but it’s going to take a semi to haul a backhoe in big enough do dig the base out. I installed a dusk to dawn light on it that has lighed it every night since. When the bulb burns out every 10,000 hours or so, it gets replaced before I go to bed that night. When the flag starts to look faded it gets a brand new one and the old one goes to the V.F.W. for proper disposal. I fly a 4’x6′ instead of the normal 3’x5′ residential size and the pole is 25′ not 10′ tall.But the flag means a lot more when you wonder what 2 sons are doing and if they are ok but you can’t communicate with them for years on end. We are leaving for H.I. monday for 2 weeks to see Chad. HAVE A GREAT MEMORIAL WEEKEND !!! Call when you can ! love ya , Douglas

  4. Everyone has a daddy….I am so lucky to have Harry Beeman as my daddy…..
    his 58 years young daughter

  5. Nice article Mary! I was flying back to STL from Texas this weekend and thanked a Vietnam vet for his service. I was glad he was wearing a hat so I knew to thank him! I also try to thank any military when I see them in the airports – I’m always impressed with their humbleness and willingness to serve. Thank you for the reminder Mary – that we all need to live our American Spirit and represent our country well!

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