Monday, July 6, 2009

Stars & stripes forever

Church Sunday morning was red, white and blue. Everybody looked so patriotic. Even Bro. Bennie had on a shirt that resembled a flag. Of course, so did I (photo above). The day was set aside as a birthday celebration – the 233rd – for our nation. Even as I watched the Yankees play Saturday, every player had on a red cap and all the NY insignias had red, white and blue stripes. The umpires wore red caps.

Every song in church touched on patriotism, from the Star Spangled Banner, to Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA , sung by a guest lady, not by Lee himself, but nevertheless, performed quite well. Also, “Armed Forces: The Pride of America” medley was sung with anthems from all branches, Army, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force and all the ex-servicemen stood. Bro. Bennie stood for the Coast Guard, because he said he has never had anyone stand during that song in any of his services. I stood proudly as the famed Air Force music was playing, and I thought nostalgically back to my Air Force days. From Lackland and training camp in the scorching heat of San Antonio in September, to Hamilton AFB, the “country club of Air Force” bases in California, to Viet Nam and finally to Altus AFB in Altus, OK.

My time in the AF touched a myriad of places. I remember all the marching, more marching and the parade reviews in Lackland. We marched so often I had shin splits and the T(raining)I(nstructor) in charge of our squadron called me “hoppy” for awhile. But, somehow I persevered simply because I didn’t want to fall behind and have to start over again. At Hamilton AFB in California , the duty was splendid. There were palm trees, green grass and I was only 20 miles from San Francisco ! Viet Nam was not easy by any means, but the jobs we had were given according to time in country, not so much by rank. After a few short months, I had been there longer than most of my friends, so I got the better job, refueling the commercial aircraft that landed.

Altus was hardly a vacation spot, either. It was flat, flat and flatter, hot, hot and hotter, windy, windy and more windy. There were times when being in Viet Nam seemed easier than being in Altus . Through it all, though, I was proud to be serving my country. And I still am proud of the red, white and blue.


At July 6, 2009 at 6:22 PM , Blogger colin said...

Right on Brother John, I attend a lot of High School sports events and around here they still honor the flag before each game and sometimes even have a prayer. I'm always glad to stand and salute the FLAG. We too had a "Red, White, and Blue" service at Church and as always those types of services are touching to me. When I attended "West Side Elementary" in Heavener some student would play the National Anthem each morning as the flag was raised. Wonder if they still do that.
One thought of a different nature though; You can sure here some awful renditions of the National Anthem at sporting events. Some are great however. Recently we attended a basketball game and the announcer came on before the game and stated that they would not be able to have the National Anthem that night because they couldn't find the recording that they always used. The Coach from the visiting team went over to the announcer and told him that he had a player on his team that would sing it for us and she did and sang it as beautifully as I have ever heard it. That was one event I will always remember.


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