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My Country My Flag

Story ID:5881
Written by:Monte Leon Manka (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Hemet CA USA
Person:Country Lovin Chelsea Kansas Kid
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My Country
My Flag

What does this mean to you?

When I was a kid about sixty years ago, I never thought much about My Country. I knew that it was a place where I was born.

I thought the 4th of July was for firing off firecrackers and I never thought anything else about it.

What a great day, picnic, watermelon, fried chicken and all the trimmings, this was my thought about My Country.

Even as I grew older, I never realized that the 4th of July meant anything much, just another Holiday. Now you may not think that I felt this way but as a teenager, I thought about everything but Independence Day.

Then in the year of 1944 as things heated up in Europe and Japan I suddenly thought about my country. My Country was violated by a bunch of oriental madmen and I probably would have to go into the service. The thought of serving my country seemed like an easy thing to do. Did I get a wake up call when I registered for the Army?

I watched a friend of mine as he left for the Navy and it still did not register in my brain that I would have to go in soon.

When that bus pulled up in front of the station and I was about to depart it hit me; “This is it”. Now I was giving up school and all the things that I was going to do and the thought hit me that I might not come back. It was true. I thought I am not the only one, millions of other guys are doing the same thing.

The feeling that I had when I was in the barracks with forty other guys I did not know was overwhelming, knowing that I would have to live with some of them, maybe forever.

The first parade with several hundred other GIs and the American Flags waving in the breeze is a beautiful sight to see. As we passed in front of the Grandstand with the Superior officers looking on, and taking a look at all the soldiers marching in step and in perfect order. It was a sight that I would never have seen if I had not gone in the service for My Country.

Now I am not going to try to make you believe that I was one of those “Gung Ho” guys. I did not really want to go into the service, but when you get the card that says “Uncle Sam Needs You” then that feeling you had passes away.

I began to realize what My Country meant when I reached the shores of Okinawa, and later Korea when I saw the starving people, knowing that I would never go hungry in My Country.

I saw the terrible way that the Japanese had left the country. The main streets were still dirt in Korea and the means of transportation was a broken down rail system.

Now when I see the Flag of My Country I get a good feeling inside. I think that the younger people of today think about the 4th of July as I did when I was a kid. I pray that they don’t have to go to war so they can appreciate Old Glory as I learned to do when I saw some of the terrible things in other countries.

Not too many people respect the flag any more. I have been to ball games when some leave their hats on and sit down when the National Anthem is played. It is sad to see how some of the younger people do not know why they stand and salute the flag.

I never thought that I would get the feeling that I get when I see the Flag.

It is something that you cannot explain. It is a feeling everything will be all right forever and ever.

The hundreds of big Flags flying at the Arlington Cemetery in Riverside Calif., when we go to visit the grave of our son, is such a beautiful sight and the feeling that all is well and at Peace there.

It is strange how a piece of cloth with Stars and Stripes can wake you up to the realization that when put together right can be the symbol that you will fight and die for.

I used to watch the Parades and see the “Old Duffers” with their backs as straight as a ramrod carrying the Flag.

I never made fun of this, but I looked on it as someone that had nothing else to do, and was elected to carry the Flag.

Now as I get older I look at these ramrod straight men carrying the flag and get a little moist in the eyes, and a lump in the throat and have a completely different out look and respect them as our “Men”.

Now it is the 4th of July and we are going to go to the park and have the traditional watermelon and fried chicken and enjoy the time with the people that we love.

Each time that I see our Flag flying I will feel a little bigger and better and appreciate My Country and Flag even more because I have had a chance to serve.

Monte L. Manka from July 4th, 1998.