I will Salute 36

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


The Invisible Star Reply

There were probably no flags flying when Alex and Sophia boarded the Susan B. Howell in the Port of Londonderry. They were surrounded by all of their children, a few meager possessions, and a dream for a better life. If there was a flag flying ashore, it was more than likely the hated Union Jack that had flown over their homeland and their adopted land. It was a constant reminder of their servitude to anyone who held the deed to the land they worked. This trip was a chance to escape ground that had been over farmed and debts that were harder than the ground itself.

200px-Emigrants_Leave_Ireland_by_Henry_Doyle_1868       Arrival

There are no written records of their arrival. It was just another immigrant family touching the shores of the promised land. But I am sure from my research that they would have seen at least one or two of the flags that came to symbolize their new life in this place called America. The young country had run through a number of flags in its early days and the addition of stars to the field of blue was a testament to her growth.

Civil War Flag

Days of conflict lay ahead as the country struggled with growth and beliefs. By the time their son John was old enough to want to go, the war that raged across the land was waiting for him.


The flag that went into the war was seen as a guiding light of the nation for the men of the north and something that repressed states rights on the part of the southerners. The war had a high cost for all involved. But the flag that emerged was bathed by the blood of her sons and tempered by the fires of resolution. In the end, it was the flag that stood over the reconstruction of a nation. In many ways, it now added the invisible star: the star of freedom and liberty for all seekers.

More invisible stars

Flags and banners have been at the heart of man’s existence for a very long time. We become identified with them and seek them as symbols of that identity. In battle, they provided a rallying point and signal for various maneuvers. As countries grew and developed, the flags indicated the sense of nationalism and sometimes even chauvinism. Protecting the flag in battle became an honor and a tradition that was passed from generation to generation. The British Army has rooms full of flags that are shot up, embroidered with names and dates of old battles, and sometimes blood stained. If you travel to any of our American military museums, you will see similar tributes.

The flag has always been a part of my life. It started early as we placed flags on the headstones of all the men and women who had served in the wars of this nation.  It stood in the front of the church I was confirmed in. It watched over me each time I took the oath to defend that nation she stands for. It covered my Father’s coffin.


It is still there. It flies in front of my house and on every flagpole in the area that represents some part of the nation’s offices. It flies over the graveyards where her heroes rest. Every place you see it fly, it is a reminder of that invisible star.

What does it mean when someone destroys it? Is it mere cloth that becomes ash?


Thirteen stripes of red and white, and fifty stars on a field of blue.

They stand for one America, they stand for me and you.

When someone tears her from her place and sets her heart afire

They release the invisible star,

The one that still inspires.

She cannot be destroyed by matches, fuel and fire

The star which stands for liberty continues to inspire.

It lights the way for humble folk who seek prosperity

They stand together proud and strong to fight for liberty.

Each time a foe attacks her, another lesson’s learned

You might burn cloth to ashes, but the Star will never burn!

Matthew 6: 19-21

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I mourn the destruction and desecration of every flag by an enemy, a malcontent, an ignorant child, or someone who has lost the vision of what America stands for.

But every time one burns, the invisible star burns brighter in the evening sky.

They can’t burn it, they can’t stomp on it, it is bigger than their hate or scorn can ever approach. As long as there is freedom and liberty, that star will always light the path for the seekers.

God Bless America

Mister Mac