Fly With Pride
By Donna Malloy
As children frolicked on the beach, hamburgers and hot dogs sizzled on the grill. Island music saturated the air as the balmy sea breeze soothed their tender skin. Another Memorial Day on Clearwater Beach.
My father served in the 102nd Division Quarter Master Section under General Keating in World War II. His war memories were as deep as his scar. As a child, I remember tracing the large indentation on my dad’s right cheek and on several occasions asked him:
“Were you shot in the war?”
He’d smile, but would never answer my question.
Permanent friendships were formed in foxholes. Sometimes their only bonds were pride and fear. Their less fortunate comrades were carried home to their families in a pine box draped with an American flag. Today, in France, Belgium, the Philippines and Hawaii, 292,131 Americans are buried beneath orderly white headstones. Some headstones are unmarked, casting a shadow on the bones of a teenager or twenty something soldier who permanently rests in the country where he died. More than 183,000 American children were born war orphans, their only reality a tattered picture of a stranger dressed in uniform in a modest frame. 1945; World War II ended. A cumulative point system for “time served” determined the order of the soldiers’ return. My dad arrived in his hometown of Meshoppen, Pennsylvania on January 5th of 1946. Traveling with him was his childhood friend Danny, a high school athlete before he enlisted in the war. Danny was now a hunchback and his once tall stature stood eye to eye with the children as he talked to them. Normally we children would be afraid of such a physical malformation, but Danny’s gentle nature quickly overcame our fears.
As a result of sleeping on the cold ground during the war, my dad contracted histoplasmosis and was in poor health. But dad wasn’t too sick to ask my mother to marry him, and in February of that year gave my mother $80 to buy her wedding dress. Having sacrificed years of their lives toward the war effort, the returning soldiers were anxious to rebuild and never looked back. The first of many Levittowns, boxed cake mixes and baby boomers were born. Memorial Day 2008. I relax on my balcony. To my dismay, I am the only resident displaying an American flag out of 349 condominiums in my complex. The very least we can do is fly our American flag in gratitude to all our war heroes who left behind parents, wives, sisters, brothers and children.
Soon we will be celebrating July 4th, the date in 1776 when the 2nd Continental Congress adopted our Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. I’d like to propose that while compiling your shopping list for our July 4th festivities, you add an American flag to your items. American flags are available on line staring at $7.99 plus shipping from sites such as www.CVSFlags.com. That’s a small price to pay for freedom. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Clearwater Beach was also noted as one of the “Top 10” most patriotic towns in American in addition to being one of the top ten family fun places?
“We take the stars from heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity, representing our liberty.” - George Washington
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