I will Salute

Forty six years ago, I raised my right hand in a room full of strangers and pledged to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. I solemnly swore to do so while standing facing the flag that represents this country. For all of the years since then, that flag has played a central role in my life.

I watched her fly as a green recruit and came to understand she is more than just another piece of cloth. I watched her fly from the deck of many submarines and ships at bases all over the world. I listened with pride one night in Yokosuka Japan while a shipmate played Taps as we retired her for the day. I felt the crushing weight of seeing a comrade under her in a casket bound for home. I felt sadness at the deaths of so many veterans who also shared her as a final shroud.

It has never occurred to me that I would do anything but salute her when given the chance. My generation saw the rupture that was known as Vietnam and we saw the riots of the sixties. But the flag was an eternal symbol that gradually helped us to refocus. Now I see that it is becoming too common place that people feel they need to burn her and trample on her. They callously abuse the freedom and liberty we have preserved for them to use her as a blunt object with which to make their point. Politicians kneel and disrespect her for shallow and ignorant reasons. The courts have even given them license and liberty to do so.

But not me.

I will salute.

I have seen her flying on a cloudless day over the graves of so many men and women who gave their last breath to protect her in places like Arlington and too many other cemeteries to count.

I will salute.

I have stood on the platform above the once mighty Arizona and cried while I read the names on the wall of honored dead. I have done the same at the inward most corner of the Vietnam Wall. In each case, I could look up and see her standing guard.

I will salute.

I have spent time with the men and women whose bodies are broken but their spirits still soar as they revere her. Each time the anthem plays, they sit upright or struggle to their feet if they are able and face her one more time.

I will salute.

I have felt the harsh sand beneath my feet at Normandy and heard the wind singing of their glory and sadness on that fateful day. High above in the cliffs, I have heard the echoes of guns that tried to silence her. But they are silent now and SHE flies above their captured forts.

I will salute.

From coast to coast, city to city, borough to borough, I have seen her citizens fly her in remembrance of the bravest and the best and with a promise to protect their children’s future.

I will salute.

While others choose to use her as a sad symbol of protest and a lightning rod for a never ending litany of real and perceived offences, I know her real meaning. Until my dying day when I can no longer stand, I will find the strength to straighten my body until it is properly ready to render honors one last time.

Even then, I will salute.

Bob MacPherson July 27, 2018


36 thoughts on “I will Salute

  1. What a Great Article Mister Bob MacPherson, and very timely for me as I just returned from the LAST AND 17th MCB-6 Association Reunion in Baltimore, MD. We had several tours lined up and I went on three; D.C. & ARLINGTON CEMETERY last Sunday; watched the Changing of the Guards at the Tomb of the UKNOWN SOLDIER. We stood in the rain for over 20 minutes and it was raining constantly, and as I stood there I wondered how many hours these soldiers have face the snow, wind, and rain. I had left my poncho & umbrella in the room, but they handed out ponchos for those needing them. It was certainly an honor for me to see them again. We were told there is a LONG WAITING LIST TO EVEN START TRAINING FOR THAT POSITION.
    On Monday we toured Fort McHenry and the B & O Railroad Museum. We missed the rain, BUT WE WERE VERY LUCKY TO BE HONORED HELPING CHANGING THE STORMY WEATHER FLAG (much smaller), AND REPLACING IT WITH A LARGER ONE FOR THE NICE WEATHER.
    However, the rain returned Tuesday as we toured D, C. City and the Smithsonian, BUT IT TOO WAS A PLEASURE TO REVISIT “WALKING IN THE RAIN”.
    Great Job as Usual. Keep It Going Strong.

    1. Thanks my friend. The tours sound like a great time. I am sorry it will be the last big reunion but only here on this planet. I have a feeling that someday you will all be together again when the time comes.

  2. Another Bravo Zulu, Mister Mac. I too salute each and every time I drive by (carefully, I assure you sir) the National Cemetery here in Wilmington, NC as well as everytime I walk up the gangway to the battlehsip North Carolina. True, she no longer flies the commissioning pennant and there is no quarterdeck watch, but my country’s flag flies proudly at the stern and I proudly salute each and every time I arrive or leave.

  3. Never forget what this flag is standing for. So many people don`t know or ignore it outside in the world.
    The American flag is more than only a flag – she is standing for heart, brave, feeling and so much more.
    Thank you for touching my heart in this great way!

      1. Thank you, Mister Mac.
        Your postings are great. In Europe a lot people don`t understand the meaning of this great flag. So for me your post is a great possibility to tell them the meaning and the (historic) understanding.

  4. Reblogged this on Home of the free and commented:
    Willst du verstehen, wie ein Amerikaner zu seiner Flagge steht und welchen Wert sie für ihn hat, vor allem, wenn derjenige sich aus freien Stücken entschloss sein Herz und sein ganzes Sein seiner neuen Heimat anzuvertrauen?
    Wer vergessen hat, wie es ist und sich anfühlt, sein Herz an eine Heimat zu verlieren, dem lege ich diesen Beitrag nahe!

    Me too:
    I will salute!

      1. I hope the translator can help. In the moment my english is not perfect, so i can understand you.

  5. What a beautiful post. The tragic thing about those who don’t understand as you do: they never saw this flag as you did. The perversity of their blatant and shallow disrespect? The very things they *claim* they hate this incredible flag for are the very things this flag represents.

    Thank you for giving of your own heart, your time, your life, to defend it all.

  6. 50 years ago this month, July 1968 I did the same. My oath and salute has no expiration date.🇺🇸

  7. Wish everyone felt that way about our flag. Even though I have never experienced it in the circumstances that you have, our flag always thrills me when I see it flying in the breeze. For me, it stands for freedom, which is something I treasure.

  8. Amen! Count me among those who respect the flag. I like to think that we hear about disrespect because it is mostly uncommon and makes the news.

    1. My dear friend. Thank you for taking the time to respond to the post. I was just young enough to be in during the final days of the war and only spent a few short hours in Saigon before the fall. I have admired the Australian People for my entire life however. The courage your country exhibited in defying the Japanese invaders I the Pacific, the Communist incursions in both Korea and Vietnam and the support you have shown to freedom unites us as brothers forever. I count my time in Perth as one of my best memories as a Submariner.
      Mister Mac

  9. Mac, if you ever get a chance, you might want to visit the reblog of this post – I’ve received a good number of comments on your work here!!

    1. Thanks my friend. You have an awesome blog and I appreciate that you shared this post. It is obvious from the number of posts that I have been seeing that you are blessed with a very wide audience.


      1. It sort of took off on its own. I’ve been very lucky with the readers I’ve acquired who talk not only to me, but to each other and enjoy contributing their own information.
        I’ve enjoyed your site for quite a while now. Submariners are a special breed, Thank you for being one of them!

  10. Sorry you feel the way you do. You can probably imagine that many people who think like me struggled through the last eight years as America was divided by identity politics and a government that piled regulation after regulation on top of poor businesses and communities. I used to feel such frustration as I watched community after community in the coal regions around me slowly being strangled to death. In the place of jobs, debilitating dugs filled those small communities and destroyed families. The war on coal killed whole regions and the absolutely insane adherence to the job killing “global climate” disaster was nothing more than a sham to fill democrat leaders pockets. Talk about a person unfit to be President? You have no room to even approach that table. And lies? Lets open the school records of Oblamo and show him for the forgery that he was. Lets reveal all of the horrible things he had the FBI and others do in the months before and after the election. I am just glad that all of the lies are starting to unravel. It is beautiful to see the light of day being shined on traitors. Nope, that bar has been lowered forever. As far as warriors, I know of none who actually fought for democracy. We fought under a flag that represents a constitutional Republic. Its even in the pledge. You can look it up. In my twenty plus years, I fought for the people who just wanted to live a life that free. Nothing Obama did was helping to make that happen. He will forever be a stain on the Republic.
    Last thing. Do not even start to pretend to speak for the men and women who gave their lives for this country. You do not have the right and unless you are a psychic, you have grievously misjudged what I know in my heart was their intent. I was with them. Were you?

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