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Old Glory

a silhouette of Senior Airman Zoe Wockenfuss stands in front of an illuminated American flag

Senior Airman Zoe Wockenfuss, Public Affairs Specialist with the 171st Air Refueling Wing Pennsylvania Air National Guard, poses for a photo in the studio Aug. 31, 2020. The photo is to accompany the article titled "Old Glory." (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Zoe M. Wockenfuss)

Coraopolis, Pa. --

Throughout American history, there has always been a constant. The American flag is a knot in the American legacy that won't come undone. It is worn on the right sleeve of our uniform. It is painted on every military aircraft. It was raised atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima and at Ground Zero of the World Trade Center after the attacks of 9/11. It was oil-spattered and saved from the wreckage of the USS Arizona during Pearl Harbor. It was planted on the moon’s rocky surface in 1969. It lines the streets of American hometowns and is painted on the cheeks of children for Independence Day. It is the American flag and it represents the freedom, dignity, and true meaning of being an American.

The servicemen and women who take an oath to fight for this country are prepared to give their lives. They swear to protect it and bring honor to its colors. Red symbolizes hardiness and valor while the color white symbolizes purity and innocence. The blue represents vigilance, perseverance, and justice. American citizens are willing to stand for the American flag, and all that it represents, time and time again.

To the American service member, the American flag is more than just fabric, it is a connection to one another. It is a symbol of freedom and equal opportunity. It embodies our common mission and history as well as service members’ timeless bond. Each of the 13 stripes represents the original colonies that fought for our independence and the stars depict every one of the 50 United States. Those stars and stripes unite us, as Americans, to protect and defend this nation. Citizens enjoy the freedom and liberty to express their constitutional rights thanks to the sacrifices Americans have made throughout the years.

Often called “Old Glory”, the American flag has come to mean a great deal to Americans. It flies over the land of the free and the home of the brave. It has been there with us through times of war as well as times of great triumph. We carry it with us when we are deployed overseas. It gets tattered and torn during firefights and missions outside the wire but it is mended by the tired hands that carried it. Some members will carry it for many years, while others’ time is cut short. At the end of their days, they return home in a flag-covered casket. The ultimate sacrifice was made and they are to be honored with the red, white, and blue. While the flag rests atop the casket, there can only be one sound, the sound of Taps. The flag is then folded in half, and then again from corner to corner until its final position is that of a triangle. And one final salute, to that American flag.