The Tri-Corner Flag

There was always that flag in our house – the one folded so carefully into the traditional tri-corner form, with the stars visible from both sides. It was always on display, at first by itself, then with the medals and pictures that linked the flag with my Grandpa’s older brother Joe.

Great Uncle Joe was killed in World War I: In a place forgotten by most, in a way mentioned by no one. He was a young soldier, doing his duty, far away from his Wisconsin home. There are millions of stories like his, with millions of families like ours: Grateful for his service and saddened that we never had the chance to see the potential of his full life.

I am now old enough to have seen the country’s mood about the military make several swings, from the full-throated “love-it-or-leave-it” patriotism of the 1960s, to the disillusionment of the 1970s, the bottoming out and rebound of the 1980s, the militarism of the 1990s, and finally to our time. A time where we have our (violent) disagreements about war and how to wage it, but all of us appreciate the men and women who disrupt their lives and put themselves into harm’s way to protect our way of life.  

These are our heroes. It’s a time where we struggle to find heroism in our everyday lives. Traditional heroes – sports legends, politicians, captains of industry, and even parts of the clergy – have all left us disappointed. Still, these men and women remain worthy to be called our heroes and deserve our thanks.

Unlike Great Uncle Joe, these people are still among us, wearing the uniform with pride and doing what it takes to keep our country strong. We can thank them for what they do for us and what they make possible.

It’s Memorial Day. It’s time.


1 Response to “The Tri-Corner Flag”

  1. 1 Mike T.
    June 3, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Amen! My grandfather was gassed in France during WWI. He lived until he was 91, but never spoke of the ordeal. My father didn’t serve because he was considered essential to the WWII effort as a farmer. But his two brothers served in Korea. Both came home, but never speak of their experiences. War does that to us – it’s sometimes necessary, but the trauma and the disruptions to our lives makes it very difficult to talk about. I didn’t serve in VietNam because I was in the ministry. I was torn between the ideals of Peace and the reality of a system of living that was not what I believed in. I lost good friends in Viet Nam who gave their lives so I could have the privledge and opportunity to struggle with the realities of War and Peace. So – I join you in your salute to those who are our hero’s whether in the Ardan Forest or Bagdad!

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