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The Flag
of the
United States of America

The following was submitted to me exclusively for this SAR site, copyright 1997 by Linda Burnett Kistner ( "John, my dad was born in March, 1920 and entered into the service in April, 1941. He was career Air Force in communications - most of which was spent in cryto (decipering and coding messages). We were always taught First - God, Second - Country and Third - Family. We saw this in growing up and even now none of us resent his choices but as we read this poem understand them even more. I found out that this poem was written when Daddy was at Ft. Benjamin Harris in the C. M. W. T. (I have no idea what that means) other than I have been told it was a military training camp for young people." -Linda

From one of Linda's sisters - "Mr. West, thank you for the honorable way in which you printed my dad's poem. As my sister, Linda, told you, he was a man who indeed loved his country. He would have been very proud of your printing his poem ..." -Mary Ann Gascho of Michigan


To me the American Flag stands next to the Christian Cross. Like the Cross, the flag stands for freedom and the preservation of life. I believe that there is no other flag on earth that represents it's country more perfectly that the Stars and Stripes represents the United States of America.
All Americans should love this flag and be willing to sacrifice all that is possible to keep the flag from being disgraced.
Today as never before I, a true American, look to the flag to protect me and my home, and I also look to the flag, thinking that I am one who must, at all times no matter how critical the situation may be, be ready to fight for the Red, White and Blue.
During the World War (1917-1918) the stars and Stripes led the American soldiers through the Battle of the Argonne Forest and other bloody battles. Although I have never experienced it, but I have heard the soldiers say that nothing looks more beautiful on foreign soil than the Stars and Stripes.
If in case the United States is drawn into the present, or any other war, I pray that the American People will not hesitate to follow this flag.
I have prepared this little poem which I think will show "What the American Flag Means to Me."


I think I shall never brag,
A poem as lovely as our flag.
The flag that waves o'er our soldiers graves,
and proves to the world that he was brave.
The flag that unfurls in the sky,
and makes you chill as it goes by,
The flag that stands for free people all,
and waves from staffs both short and tall.
Upon the colors Red, White and Blue,
The hearts of our people should be true.
Poems are made by people who brag,
But only the U.S. can make this flag.

Paul H. Burnett
Age 20 (about 1940)
Glen Dean (Breckinridge Co.), Kentucky

Mike's Flag

(Condensed from a speech by Leo K. Thorness,

recipient of The Congressional Medal of Honor. )


"You've probably seen the bumper sticker somewhere along the road. It depicts an American Flag, accompanied by the words "These colors don't run." I'm always glad to see this, because it reminds me of an incident from my confinement in North Vietnam at the Hao Lo POW Camp, or the "Hanoi Hilton," as it became known. Then a Major in the U.S. Air Force, I had been captured and imprisoned from 1967-1973. Our treatment had been frequently brutal.

 After three years, however, the beatings and torture became less frequent. During the last year, we were allowed outside most days for a couple of minutes to bathe. We showered by drawing water from a concrete tank with a homemade bucket.

 One day as we all stood by the tank, stripped of our clothes, a young Naval pilot named Mike Christian found the remnants of a handkerchief in a gutter that ran under the prison wall. Mike managed to sneak the grimy rag into our cell and began fashioning it into a flag.

 Over time we all loaned him a little soap, and he spent days cleaning the material. We helped by scrounging and stealing bits and pieces of anything he could use. At night, under his mosquito net, Mike worked on the flag. He made red and blue from ground-up roof tiles and tiny amounts of ink and painted the colors onto the cloth with watery rice glue. Using thread from his own blanket and a homemade bamboo needle, he sewed on stars.

 Early in the morning a few days later, when the guards were not alert, he whispered loudly from the back of our cell, "Hey gang, look here." He proudly held up this tattered piece of cloth, waving it as if in a breeze. If you used your imagination, you could tell it was supposed to be an American flag.

 When he raised that smudgy fabric, we automatically stood straight and saluted, our chests puffing out, and more than a few eyes had tears. About once a week the guards would strip us, run us outside and go through our clothing. During one of those shakedowns, they found Mike's flag. We all knew what would happen.

That night they came for him. Night interrogations were always the worst. They opened the cell door and pulled Mike out. We could hear the beginning of the torture before they even had him in the torture cell. They beat him most of the night. About daylight they pushed what was left of him back through the cell door. He was badly broken; even his voice was gone.

 Within two weeks, despite the danger, Mike scrounged another piece of cloth and began another flag. The Stars and Stripes, our national symbol, was worth the sacrifice to him. Now, whenever I see the flag, I think of Mike and the morning he first waved that tattered emblem of a nation. It was then, thousands of miles from home in a lonely prison cell, that he showed us what it is to be truly free."

Visit these sites: A Tribute to the Victims and Family
A Nation Mourns(Johnson Co., KYGenWeb)

Created by John G. West
Last Modified: Jan. 19, 2003
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