a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The U.S. flag tugs at their souls

Edsel Bryner of Chartiers Township, Pa., hold a photo of himself when he was in the Merchant Marines during World War II. Jim McNutt photo.

Writer Barbara Miller asked a number of veterans from Washington County, Pa., one question: "What does the U.S. flag mean to you?" Here are their answers published in the June/July issue of the Observer-Reporter newspaper's magazine, Living Washington County:

Edsel Bryner said the flag reminds him that he was "born into a loving family, I went to school and my family taught (me) good moral values and respect for our country."

"I take those three and I wrap the flag around them. Together, they make a great country," said Bryner, of Chartiers Township, who served in the Merchant Marines during World War II.

Herbert Hermann said the flag following veterans until the day they die, and beyond.

"It's laid on the coffin of the veteran who fought to protect it. It's the last cloth of their coffin before their body is interred. It also flies over their graves. I believe it's one of the most important symbols of our great country," said Hermann, of Fredericktown, who served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War.

U.S. Army Col. Lewis Irwin said the flag reminds him of the U.S. Constitution.

"Every member of the U.S. military swears an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to bear the true faith and allegiance to the same. With this oath in mind, our flag represents the core values of our nation," said Irwin, of Peters Township, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Dan McPoyle said the flag represents the freedoms Americans enjoy because of the efforts of veterans.

"Let us never forget the veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice, their lives in protecting our country," said McPoyle, of Lawrence, who on the USS Niagra Falls during the Vietnam War.

Sally Stephenson said her feelings about the flag are personal.

"My deepest emotional reactions to the flag are not necessarily demonstrated at organized public rituals, but instead at private encounters that suddenly remind me that I am an American," said Stephenson, of Monongahela, who taught instrument flying with the Navy WAVES during World War II.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. John A. Terminato said the flag is a symbol of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, the commitment to self-determination and the will to achieve.

"But even more than that, the flag symbolized an ageless connection between past, present and future Americans who choose to defend those very same ideals," said Terminato, of Burgettstown, who is serving in Afghanistan.

Barry Grimm said "mixed feelings tug at my soul" when he looks at the flag, some of which involve thoughts of being blessed for having freedom.

"The memories of fellow servicemen who cannot be here to celebrate our veterans' holidays with us and to enjoy the liberties we share is a heavy burden to bear," said Grimm, of Monongahela, who served in the Army National Guard during the Vietnam War.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Moving piece. I agree with Stephenson, for me, it's the private encounters with our flag that recall a feeling of pride in our country. I am so grateful to be an American, and am grateful to our people who have given their time, health, and lives, to keep us safe.

Thanks, Scott.