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Why we stand and salute our flag

By John Procida

The problem is that some people do not understand why they we are respecting our flag and anthem. What does it stand for? Well, to start, it’s recognition that our country is the best in the world.

We are so lucky to be Americans, and yes, we are all children of immigrants. This is not to say that we are perfect, but we are still the best. That is proven every day, and throughout the years, by considering the millions of people who left their old country and came to this wonderful land.

Singing the national anthem is a tribute to the men who died at the battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore during The War of 1812. That battle was arguably the most important battle in our country’s history. Had Fort McHenry surrendered, the British plan would probably have been successful. If they had landed in the center of the 13 states, as they had planned, their intention was to conquer one half of the states at a time and restore the colonies to King George.

But thanks to the many Americans who died or were wounded during that battle, the British invasion (at that important spot) was a failure. Francis Scott Key’s words describe his fearful and anxious hours looking for the flag to see if it was still there. Yes, the flag was knocked down by the unrelenting cannon fire, but the men in the fort, put it back up by piling soldiers’ dead bodies around the staff to hold it up. When I sing the anthem and get to the words “AND THE FLAG WAS STILL THERE,” I almost choke on the emotion of that moment.

I am an Italian-American. I was born in America and I served four years in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. I have known prejudices in my life. Yes, I know that our country is not perfect, but I am still intelligent enough to understand how great this country is and what it stands for. Standing and saluting the flag and the anthem is not a custom, it’s an honor.

The flag and the national anthem are sacred and above politics. Singing and saluting them says that, although we have differences, we are still all one and together.

John Procida

Flushing

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