By Colonel Paul F. Dudley

I am a United States of America shredded flag.
I fly from the roof of many typical American homes.
Some time ago, I was new and radiant when they placed me there,
But the wind and rain have reduced me to strings of red, white, and blue.
Sometimes I fly from vehicles until I am torn to shreds;
Though I still wave proudly, and can be recognized, I need replaced,
And here is why:

Brave military have carried me into battles in many wars
To save and preserve our nation, and restore peace.
I fly proudly above our military bases and naval vessels
To show that we are, yet today, a nation of strength and honor.
Our Veterans, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Cost Guard
Still honor me, care for me, protect me, and rescue me when torn;
With them, I am in good hands.
When they see that I am weathering from the elements,
They take me down and honorably, ceremonially give me final rest,
And as a service to those citizens who do not seem to know, or do the same,
They do it for them, with great respect and understanding.
I am called “Old Glory”, “The Star Spangled Banner”, and other respected names,
Which make me flow and flutter proudly in the wind;
For I am the true vision of our great nation.
I represent a people who have their freedom;
I remind a people of the sacrifice that we have made to keep it;
I go off to war with the greatest warriors, many who die defending it,
And I grieve when draped over their coffins when they are returned.
I am placed into the hands of their greatest loved ones
To honor them and remember them forevermore.
Those who dishonor me, stomp on me, and burn me, only destroy my cloth;
My meaning, my purpose, my honor and representation still live on;
They cannot be taken away so long as there remains a United States of America.

So, fellow citizens, protect what I stand for, not for me, but for you;
For I am merely dye on cloth with a God Blessed meaning.
Honor me; respect me for what I stand for,
And I will fly over you wherever, and forever!
I am “The Stars and Stripes Forever”!*

* The National March of the United States of America
Composed by John Philip Sousa, Christmas Day 1896
A United States Marine, Commander and Conductor of the U.S. Marine Band

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