I attended a retirement today for an Electronics Technician Master Chief (ETCM). As a member of the military, I find myself at retirements very frequently. Some other time I will discuss the overall ceremony more throughly. Today I want to focus on one aspect, the poem “My Name is Old Glory.” This poem was written by a Marine who served in World War II, Howard Schnauber. It is frequently recited, with a flare for drama at it’s best, and the sound of “America the Beautiful” playing lightly in the background. While it plays, usually, a Sailor representing every rank of the person retiring will pass a Flag that had been flown over a significant ship or duty station (significant to the retiree.) It is one of the most beautiful moments in the ceremony and will bring a tear – even if you have seen it 100 times. The words are so powerful.
I am the flag of the United States of America.
My name is Old Glory. I fly atop the world’s tallest buildings. I stand watch in America’s halls of justice. I fly majestically over great institutes of learning. I stand guard with the greatest military power in the world. Look up! And see me!
I stand for peace – honor – truth and justice. I stand for freedom I am confident – I am arrogant I am proud.
When I am flown with my fellow banners My head is a little higher My colors a little truer.
I bow to no one. I am recognized all over the world. I am worshipped – I am saluted – I am respected I am revered – I am loved, and I am feared.
I have fought every battle of every war for more than 200 years: Gettysburg, Shilo, Appomatox, San Juan Hill, the trenches of France, the Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome, the beaches of Normandy, the deserts of Africa, the cane fields of the Philippines, the rice paddies and jungles of Guam, Okinawa, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Guadalcanal New Britain, Peleliu, and many more islands.
The Union Flag After Gettysburg
And a score of places long forgotten by all but those who were with me. I was there. I led my soldiers – I followed them. I watched over them. They loved me. I was on a small hill in Iwo Jima. I was dirty, battle-worn and tired, but my soldiers cheered me, and I was proud.
I have been soiled, burned, torn and trampled on the streets of countries I have helped set free. It does not hurt, for I am invincible. I have been soiled, burned, torn and trampled on the streets of my country, and when it is by those with whom I have served in battle – it hurts. But I shall overcome – for I am strong.
I have slipped the bonds of Earth and stand watch over the uncharted new frontiers of space from my vantage point on the moon. I have been a silent witness to all of America’s finest hours.
But my finest hour comes when I am torn into strips to be used for bandages for my wounded comrades on the field of battle, When I fly at half mast to honor my soldiers,
And when I lie in the trembling arms of a grieving mother at the graveside of her fallen son.