The Ragged Old Flag
This morning, like many early mornings, I sat at my computer flipping through Facebook with a cup of coffee. This typically takes very little time because most of the drivel that emanates from my Facebook feed is virtually worthless. No, I do not care that you got a bikini wax or that you “Like” some post from a Facebook friend you probably wouldn’t be able to have a conversation with in real life.
However, today was different. A buddy of mine shared a video on his wall that caught my attention. It was entitled The Ragged Old Flag. We are friends on Facebook and in real life. He is a true warrior. My friend is a long time US Army Special Forces operator, a Green Beret. He has been on multiple deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and a few other places he cannot really talk about. He did this well into his late forties until his body finally gave out on him. To me, he is not only a warrior and a hero, he is the embodiment of the American spirit. My friend joined the Army late in life. In his late twenties, he enlisted in the US Army and later volunteered for, was accepted into and earned his place among the elite US Army Green Berets.
The United States Army Special Forces are known as the Green Berets because of their distinctive service headgear. They are a special operations force with five primary missions. They conduct unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, direct action, and counter-terrorism missions. My buddy has pretty much done it all. And he doesn’t talk about it at bars bragging of his bravado. He is a silent warrior. Like all true warriors, he doesn’t want or need the recognition.
My friend posted a video that I have embedded at the bottom of this article. It is an old gritty Johnny Cash video where Cash relates the story of the American Flag in a small rural town that has become ragged and worn. It is a story as much about our flag as much as it is about my friend and all service members after years of service and dedication to the homeland that I love. It reminded me of how sickened I am by all of the politicians in our country who have hijacked my homeland and perverted politics to cater to their special interest cause of the day. Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partiers, I am talking to all of you. You make my stomach turn. You’ve stolen the America I grew up in and turned it into a freak show of politics.
Forget the Republican and Democratic parties. Forget the Tea Party. Whatever happened to the American Party? When I was growing up there were people of opposing views just like today. Some of my friend’s parents were democrats. My own parents were and still are democrats. Some of my friend’s parents were republicans. However, you know what? I would never have known that. Heck, I did not even know what I believed in politically until I was in my late twenties. To me, all of my friends were just Americans. I had Black, white, Asian and Hispanic friends growing up. Their skin color never mattered to me. It was who they were on the inside that mattered. To this day, I couldn’t care less what color your skin is. It is the color of your integrity that matters to me.
The media have become that proverbial middle child many families have that gets drunk at the holidays and proceeds to gossip about and criticize everyone under the sun just because deep down inside, they are not at peace with themselves. Sure, it garners good ratings to spread gossip and denigrate those who have opposing views, but it does no good for anyone. For all that attention you are getting at that moment; know that when you aren’t looking, we think your actions are idiotic. We are Americans and we need to start acting like it. We need to stop pushing each other down trying to force the agenda of the day in which we happen to believe. We need to start acting like the Americans who fought and died for the Ragged Old Flag. We need to come together as one and be Americans again. We cannot lift each other up if we keep pushing each other down.
To the politicians of all political parties, I have this to say to you. Fuck you. We are your constituents. If government were a business, we would be your customers. I know it is hard for you to understand at times. But you need to start acting like you give a damn about your customers. Stop telling us one thing to get elected and then doing the exact opposite once you are in office. In my world, we call that lying. In the business world, we call that bait and switch. You’ve cheated the American people and I for one am sick and tired of it. Don’t tell me you are going to fundamentally change the country for the better when you are trying to tear down the Ragged Old Flag and raise one for a country I don’t fundamentally recognize anymore.
Like Johnny Cash states in the video, I thank God for all the freedoms we have in this country. When I enlisted in the Marine Corps I knew that I was willing to lay my life on the line in defense of my homeland and fellow countrymen. I still would today, even for someone’s right to be stupid in America. Because, if we lived in Iraq or Afghanistan or any other oppressed nation, stupidity is not tolerated, it is murdered. Just like the homosexuals, Christians and people merely fighting for freedom that are being martyred, crucified and beheaded by ISIS (or ISIL or whatever flavor of radical perverted Islam they are claiming today.)
Freedom is not free. It never has been. It was won by the bloodshed of our ancestors as they fought the Revolutionary War. It was won as the ocean waters of Normandy ran red with the blood of my countrymen. It was won in Korea and Vietnam. Freedom was fought for in Iraq and Afghanistan. History will judge whether our causes were just, but I believe all of these wars were fought in the name of Freedom. I will always feel our cause was just.
It is time to wake up America. It is time for the American party to rise from the ashes like a phoenix and lead America back to her greatness. Like the Ragged Old Flag, Americans have been “abused, burned, dishonored, denied an’ refused” by the very government for which she stands. Americans are being scandalized throughout the world. We have liberated oppressed people and asked for nothing more than a plot to bury our dead soldiers. We may be thread bare and wearing thin, but I still believe in America. As Americans, we can survive Presidents with whom we disagree. We can survive corrupt politicians of all parties. We’ve been through fire before and we shall prevail because we are one nation under God. We are Americans and I am still mighty proud of that Ragged Old Flag.