“O! Thus be it
ever, when freemen shall stand
loved home and the war’s desolation!
victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power
that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we
must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our
motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the Star -
Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of
the free and the home of the brave!”
Do you know where the above words can be found?
When we sing the Star Spangled Banner at public events,
the first verse is the only one used, but when you read the words from a
following verse, we find more meaning for us as citizens of the United
Our family celebrated Independence Day at Lake Hickory
in North Carolina. We try to make it an event that will be remembered by
all who are present. This year, as dusk fell over the lake, we held a
retirement ceremony for badly worn flags. Every person present had a
part in the ceremony, from the youngest of three years old to the oldest
at 80. The group was divided into pairs, each with an adult and a young
person. The event was planned by two veterans of our armed services,
Todd Rhodes and Lynn Gilbert.
The traditional method of retirement is to incinerate
the flag, but this does not mean carelessly tossing it in a fire. A flag
ceases to be a flag when it is cut into pieces. It should never be torn,
but cut with scissors in a methodical manner. It is more than a brightly
colored cloth . . . it is the symbol of our nation. The flag being
retired had been flying over Enon Cemetery in Calhoun County. The
cemetery is the resting place for very early settlers of our county and
those who continued to fight for our freedom through the years.
Seven red stripes and six white stripes together
represent the original 13 colonies that gained us liberty. The red
stripes remind us of the lifeblood of the brave citizens who were
willing to die for our country. The white stripes remind us of purity
and cleanliness of purpose, thought, word and deed. The blue is for
truth and justice, like the eternal blue of the star-filled heavens. The
stars represent the 50 states of our union. The American Creed states,
“It is my duty to my country to love it, to respect its constitution, to
obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all
The attention and reverence of the multi-aged group of
participants was something to observe. Several spoke of their devotion
to the ideas set forth by our forefathers.
Remember me? Some people call me Old Glory, others call
me the Star Spangled Banner, but whatever they call me, I am your flag,
the flag of the United States of America.
Something has been bothering me, so I thought I might
talk it over with you--because it is about you and me.
I remember some time ago, people would line up on both
sides of the street to watch the parade, and naturally, I was leading
everyone, proudly waving in the breeze.
When your Daddy saw me coming, he immediately removed
his hat and placed it against his left shoulder so that his hand was
directly over his heart--remember?
And you, I remember, were standing there, straight as a
soldier. You didn’t have a hat, but you were giving the right salute.
Remember your little sister? Not to be outdone, she was saluting the
same as you with her right hand over her heart--remember?
What happened? I’m still the same old flag. Oh, I’ve
added a few more stars since you were a boy, and a lot more blood has
been shed since those parades of long ago.
But now, somehow I don’t feel as proud as I used to
feel. When I come down the street, you just stand there with your hands
in your pockets. You may give me a small glance, and then you look away.
I see children running around you shouting; they don’t seem to know who
I saw one man take his hat off, then he looked around,
and when he didn’t see anybody else take off his hat, he quickly put his
Is it a sin to be patriotic today? Have you forgotten
what I stand for, and where I have been? Anzio, Guadalcanal, Korea and
Look at the memorial honor rolls, and see the names of
those patriotic Americans who gave their lives to keep this republic
free. When you salute me, you are actually saluting them!
So when you see me, please stand straight and place your
hand over your heart, and I’ll know that you remembered. I’ll salute you
by waving back!
Veterans of the Army of the United States who were
present and honored for their service were:
--Corporal Alan Icenhour of Hickory, who had three years
service with the regular army, one year with the National Guard, and two
years with the Army Reserves.
-- Lt. Commander Lynn Gilbert of Calhoun County, who had
12 years with the Army Reserves and 18 months active duty with the
Public Health Service at FCI/Gilmer.
--Sergeant First Class Todd Rhodes of Calhoun County and
Hickory, who has 26 years with the Army Reserves and National Guard. He
last served in Mozul, Iraq, with the 505 Engineering Battalion.
right, Todd Rhodes, Lynn Gilbert and Alan Icenhour.
right, Todd Rhodes, Jessie Barber, Emily Rhodes and Sarah Spencer
prepare the flag for retirement.