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Show respect to our most precious symbol

I am a proud military veteran of the United States of America.

I served with distinction in the United States Air Force from 1970-78, worked my way up through the ranks and was honorably discharged after eight years, during which time I never missed a day of work.

I am a Vietnam-era veteran, meaning I served during the war, but never went to Vietnam. I did, however, serve a tour of duty in Thailand in 1975 at the end of the war.

I didn’t have to enlist. My draft number was in the high 300’s, and I found out some years later that it was never selected.

I went because I wanted to. And I am proud to have done it.

I believe in the principles this country was founded on, and I support the rights of those who choose to dissent. After all, that is what America is all about.

But one thing that I will not stand for is showing disrespect to the American flag. To me, the flag is a tangible symbol of each and every one of our freedoms.

The flag is more than just material with stars and bars. Every time I see it, it makes me think of how lucky I am to live in this country, and how many men and women before me, and today, have sacrificed some, or all, for those freedoms.

Recently I came across a situation that made me angry.

I was on assignment, when I noticed an American flag (see photo) atop the flag pole, that had been left to fall victim to the elements.

It was not only dirty and tattered, but one corner had come loose from its moorings and another corner was wrapped around the top of the pole.

It was disgraceful, and made me wonder who would allow such a thing to happen.

I could say where this occurred, but I won’t. I am giving these folks the benefit of the doubt and going under the assumption that they don’t know this has happened. However, under the circumstances, and based on the flag’s location, that is hard to do.

I am making attempts to contact somebody in charge and ask them to fix this situation immediately.

All I want is the flag removed and disposed of properly, with due respect. And then I want a brand new flag raised in its place.

There is a way to dispose of the American flag and it isn’t to simply throw it in the garbage can. Go to http://www.charityadvantage.com/flagkeepers/FlagBurningCeremony.asp, which will provide you not only information on proper disposal, but a lot more on flag etiquette.

You can also contact your local Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop for help.

Please, don’t let this happen to the symbol of our freedom. Treat Old Glory with respect, and never forget why we are allowed to fly that flag above our homes, in and on our schools and businesses, inside and outside of our government buildings and inside our churches.

Grant is the managing editor of the Suffolk News-Herald. Contact him at 934-9603 or doug.grant@suffolknewsherald.com