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The First VA Scandal

posted Jun 22, 2014, 1:58 PM by Neslo Ventures   [ updated Oct 4, 2016, 10:42 PM ]


Herbert
Herbert Hoover

Executive Order 5398 - Establishing the Veterans' Administration
July 21, 1930 Consolidation and Coordination of Governmental Activities Affecting Veterans

Whereas section 1 of the act of Congress entitled "An act to authorize the President to consolidate and coordinate governmental activities affecting war veterans", approved July 3, 1930, provides:

(a) That the President is authorized, by Executive order, to consolidate and coordinate any hospitals and executive and administrative bureaus, agencies, or offices, especially created for or concerned in the administration of the laws relating to the relief and other benefits provided by law for former members of the Military and Naval Establishments of the United States, including the Bureau of Pensions, the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Solders, and the United States Veterans' Bureau, into an establishment to be knows as the Veterans' Administration and to transfer the duties, powers, and functions now vested by law in the hospitals, bureaus, agencies, or offices so consolidated and coordinated, including the personnel thereof, and the whole or any part of the records and public property belonging thereto the Veterans' Administration.

(b) Under the direction of the President the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs shall have the power, by order or regulation, to consolidate, eliminate, or redistribute the functions of the bureaus, agencies, offices, or activities in the Veterans' Administration and to create new ones therein, and, by rules and regulations not inconsistent with law, shall fix the functions thereof and the duties and powers of their respective executive heads.

Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by said law, the United States Veterans' Bureau, the Bureau of Pensions, and the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Solders are hereby consolidated and coordinated into an establishment to be knows as the Veterans' Administration, and the duties, powers, and functions vested by law in the United States Veterans' Bureau, the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Solders, and in the Bureau of Pensions, and the personnel of the United States Veterans' Bureau, the Bureau of Pensions, and the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, and the records and papers pertaining to the work thereof, and the public property belonging thereto, are hereby transferred to the Veterans' Administration.

HERBERT HOOVER
The White House,
July 21, 1930.

Citation: Herbert Hoover: "Executive Order 5398 - Establishing the Veterans' Administration," July 21, 1930. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=75311.


Warren
Warren G. Harding
President-elect Warren G. Harding appointed to his cabinet a mixture of outstanding leaders and unscrupulous politicians waiting for an opportunity to line their pockets. In the first category were Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes and Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover; in the second were Attorney General Harry Daugherty and Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall. Harding was a notoriously poor judge of character who expected his appointees to repay his trust with integrity. He was to be deeply disappointed.

The administration got off to a good start when Congress completed an initiative begun in the Wilson administration and established a budget system for the federal government; Charles G. Dawes was appointed first director of the budget. Then in 1921–22, the United States hosted the Washington Naval Disarmament Conference. Under the leadership of Secretary Hughes, the conference succeeded in getting the world’s major powers to agree to halt the arms race in production of large naval vessels.

It was by far the most important achievement of the Harding presidency. Other achievements were more in keeping with the Old Guard Republican views with which Harding had long been associated: a higher protective tariff (Fordney-McCumber), lower taxes on business, and a sharp reduction in the number of immigrants allowed to enter the United States from southern and eastern Europe.

Early in 1923, Attorney General Daugherty disclosed to Harding that Charles Forbes, director of the Veterans Bureau, had been illegally selling government medical supplies to private contractors. After violently berating Forbes in the White House, Harding allowed him to leave the country to escape prosecution. Shortly thereafter Charles Cranmer, general counsel of the Veterans Bureau, committed suicide. Ten weeks later Jesse Smith, Daugherty’s private secretary, also committed suicide—one day after a long conversation with Harding in the White House. Rumors had been circulating that Smith and a group known as the “Ohio Gang” had been profiting from a variety of corrupt activities.

By the spring of 1923, Harding was visibly distraught at what he regarded as the betrayal of his friends who were taking advantage of his kindliness and lax administration. He sought escape from Washington in mid-June by taking a trip to Alaska with his wife and a large entourage. On his way home at the end of July, the president complained of abdominal pain, but he seemed to rally as he rested at a San Francisco hotel. On the evening of August 2, however, as his wife read to him from a magazine, Harding suddenly died from either a heart attack or stroke.

The nation plunged into mourning, little suspecting that the beloved leader they eulogized as “an ideal American” would soon be revealed to be head of the most corrupt administration in the nation’s history. Senate investigations uncovered Forbes’s illegal financial dealings at the Veterans Bureau and pointed to Daugherty’s collusion with the Ohio Gang. Far more serious was the unfolding of the Teapot Dome Scandal. In 1921 Interior Secretary Albert Fall had persuaded Harding to transfer authority over two of the nation’s most important oil reserves—Elk Hills in California and Teapot Dome in Wyoming—from the Navy Department to the Department of the Interior. Fall then leased these reserves to private oil companies, netting for himself several hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and loans. Fall and Forbes later received jail sentences for their crimes; Daugherty twice went on trial, the first resulting in a hung jury and the second in a not guilty verdict.

Harding was never personally implicated in the scandals, but he was aware of the actions of Forbes, Smith, and the Ohio Gang and failed to bring their corruption to light. By the mid-1920s, the public began to regard Harding as a man who simply did not measure up to the responsibilities of his high office. Rumors of his heavy drinking in the White House (at a time when Prohibition was the law of the land) and of his involvement in extramarital affairs further degraded his reputation. In 1927 Nan Britton published The President’s Daughter, in which she claimed that in 1919 she had given birth to a child fathered by the future president. While historians have challenged the veracity of this and other allegations made against Harding, most of them agree that he was the least capable of the nation’s chief executives.


Harding and Corruption in Veterans Affairs

By: John W. Dean Date: November 2 , 2011   CP Note: November 2, 1865 marked the birth date of President Warren Harding.

Harding’s presidency was scarred by scandal, much of which came to light during investigations following Harding’s death. None of these investigations, however, implicated Warren Harding in any corrupt activity or wrongdoing. Nonetheless, Harding was blamed for much that had gone wrong.

His work on veterans-related issues is an example of the good and bad that occurred during his presidency.

In 1921, President Harding created the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 1922 the president vetoed the bonus bill that would benefit soldiers. Harding explained that the bonus would be a “disaster to the Nation’s finances.” He wanted to pay down the nation’s war debt first.

Then in 1923, Harding discovered corruption within the Veterans Bureau. The piece below shares the details of the scandal and Harding’s efforts to clear the mess.

Harding’s health was already failing when he got the first whiff of potential scandal. Dr. Sawyer had learned that Charles Forbes, head of the Veterans Bureau, was abusing his position. Sawyer had an interest in Forbes because his patient, Florence Harding, was deeply involved with the well-being of veterans. Sawyer had regular dealings with Forbes, who owed his job to the first lady. Her biographer, Carl Anthony, explains: “Forbes had been a frequent guest at her home and worked hard for Warren’s election. She considered his credentials impeccable: He had been a commissioned Signal Corps major, earning the Croix de Guerre and the Distinguished Service Medal in the war. Besides this, he teased and flirted with her, ‘making frequent passes,’ which one observer rather harshly thought ‘may have been a unique experience for her.’” President Harding appointed Forbes to head the War Risk Insurance Bureau, which later became the Veterans Bureau. Will Hays and Harry Daugherty had opposed the Forbes appointment. “On having Charlie look after her boys [the wounded veterans], however, the Duchess ruled.”

While Florence was recuperating, Sawyer learned from the surgeon general, H. S. Cummings, that Forbes was selling warehouses filled with hospital supplies that Cummings said belonged to the Public Health Service. Sawyer informed Daugherty, who investigated and found that Forbes was indeed selling surplus supplies (sheets, towels, soap, gauze, winter pajamas, and the like), and at absurdly low prices, to private contractors in private deals. Daugherty suspected, but had no proof, that Forbes was taking kickbacks. When Daugherty informed Harding, the president summoned Forbes to the White House and demanded an explanation. Forbes lied to the president and told him the surplus materials were being sold because the annual storage cost was $650,000, which was too expensive. When Harding asked for an appraisal of the goods being sold, Forbes produced phony information. Apparently still suspicious, Harding ordered Forbes to stop his sales, and Forbes agreed in writing to do so. But Forbes continued his dubious activity. A very angry president summoned Forbes to the White House again, where Harding refused to accept his lame excuses and demanded his resignation for insubordination. Forbes pleaded innocence and begged that he be permitted to resign after he left town, claiming to have personal business in Europe. Harding granted him that, and a few days later, on February 15, 1923, the resignation arrived. By that time, word was out that Forbes had been removed because of questionable behavior, which was sufficient to get the attention of Congress.

On March 2, 1923, the U.S. Senate began investigating Forbes’s activities at the Veterans Bureau. But not until after Harding’s death was the extent of Forbes’s criminal activity discovered. Clearly he was a crook—a foolish one to boot. Forbes had not only stolen from the government; he had stolen the young wife of one of his partners in crime. Elias H. Mortimer decided to end Forbes’s affair with his wife and their European vacation by sending Forbes to jail. Mortimer provided devastating testimony about his schemes with Forbes for kickbacks on the purchases of land, and building contracts, for new veterans hospitals. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, twelve days after the Senate inquiry had started, Charles F. Cramer, another Forbes co-conspirator and the legal adviser to the Veterans Bureau, committed suicide in the bathroom of his home. In an ironic twist, Cramer had purchased the Harding home on Wyoming Avenue.

Years later, historian Robert H. Ferrell confirmed, with regard to the criminal activities at the Veterans Bureau, that Harding acted quite appropriately and that those who criticized Harding for letting Forbes slip off to Europe to resign ignored the fact that Harding did not have any evidence of Forbes’s criminal activity, only his insubordination. Ferrell also notes that Harding immediately appointed a new director for the Veterans Bureau, who quickly cleaned up the mess Forbes had made and proved an able administrator. One widely accepted report, which Ferrell corroborates, indicates that a reporter from the New York Times accidentally happened upon a portion of Harding’s last encounter with Forbes. It was a memorable moment, for the six-foot-plus president had his hands on Forbes’s neck and was shaking him “as a dog would a rat,” while shouting, “You double-crossing bastard.” Harding did not live to see Forbes indicted and convicted of looting perhaps as much as $2 million from the Veterans Bureau. Journalist William Allen White claimed, during an interview shortly after Forbes’s departure, that Harding lamented, “I have no trouble with my enemies, I can take care of my enemies all right. But my damn friends . . . they’re the ones that keep me walking the floor nights.”

Excerpted from Warren G. Harding by John W. Dean.
Copyright © 2004 by John W. Dean.

Veterans Day History

posted Nov 11, 2011, 5:22 PM by Info @NesloVentures   [ updated Nov 11, 2011, 5:22 PM by Neslo Ventures ]

     In the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War. Although the Treaty of Versailles was signed June 28, 1919, officially ending "The Great War," it was that hour in November 1918 that marked the end of war.

      In November 1918, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. On May 13, 1938, the 11th of November in each year was declared a legal holiday; "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day.'

      World War II (1941-1945) saw the greatest mobilization of the U.S. military in the nation's history (more than 16 million); 5.7 million more served in the Korean War (1950-1953). As a result of lobbying efforts of veterans' service organizations, the 83rd U.S. Congress amended the 1938 act, striking the word "Armistice" in favor of "Veterans." President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed this legislation on June 1, 1954. From then on, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

     In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill whereby four national holiday observances would fall on a Monday to ensure a three-day weekend particularly for federal employees and to encourage tourism and travel. Veterans Day was then celebrated on the fourth Monday in October with the first observance effective October 25, 1971. This practice generated confusion as many states chose to continue observance of Veterans Day on November 11.

     In 1975, realizing November 11 carried historical and patriotic significance, President Gerald R. Ford signed a new law returning the observation of Veterans Day to November 11, beginning in 1978.

 

Information Sources:

http://www1.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp

http://www.history.army.mil/html/reference/holidays/vetsday/vetshist.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veterans_Day

History of the Poppy

posted Nov 9, 2011, 5:21 PM by Info @NesloVentures   [ updated Oct 4, 2016, 10:36 PM by Neslo Ventures ]


By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

 

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9, 2011 – Until the 1960s, veterans groups used the red poppy as the symbol of Veterans Day. In Great Britain, it still is.

The symbol comes from a poem, “In Flanders Fields,” written by Canadian doctor John M. McCrae in 1915.

The first two verses of McCrae’s three-verse poem read:


“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.”
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.”


McCrae tended to the first victims of a German chemical attack on the British line at the Belgian town of Ypres during World War I.

The fields of Flanders, where some of the most horrific battles occurred, are now dotted with cemeteries filled with the war dead. If you fly across France and Belgium, you can still see the remains of the trench systems of the war.

The Great War of 1914 to 1918, called the first modern global conflict, was an enormous divide for the world. Millions of service members died in the conflict. Millions more civilians were also killed or died of disease.

It truly was a world war. Troops fought in Turkey, the Balkans, East Africa and the Middle East as well as in Russia and France. The war caused the Russian czar to fall and allowed Vladimir Lenin to build what would become the Soviet Union.

On Nov. 11, 1918, that war came to an end. At 11 a.m. the shooting stopped. A war that saw 20,000 British “Tommies” die in 20 minutes at the Battle of the Somme in 1916, was over. The war that saw 1,384,000 French “poilus” die, ended in the trenches that extended from Switzerland to the Belgian coast. Americans, who joined the war in 1917, lost more than 100,000 soldiers in the fighting.

The Germans had signed an armistice with the allies and to the generations of The Great War, Nov. 11 remains Armistice Day. For decades, veterans sold paper poppies to raise money for memorials and for the families of those who died in the war.

But The Great War was not, as President Woodrow Wilson hoped, “the war to end all wars.” World War II rose from its ashes, and millions more died to stop the mad dreams of dictators from 1939 to 1945. The U.S. Congress changed the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day to honor all veterans after more blood was spilled during the Korean conflict to halt aggression.

Congress moved Veterans Day, along with most other federal holidays, to be celebrated on the closest Monday to the traditional date. But soon Congress reversed itself on Veterans Day because of public pressure to honor the powerful symbolism of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

This year, national observance of “11-11-11,” will include a presidential wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery and ceremonies around the country.

Along with two world wars and Korea, Americans and their allies have fought and died in Vietnam, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and other places.

Today, the United States’ armed forces confront enemies around the world. U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen defend freedom on station wherever, whenever they are called.

Those serving today are ensuring that they do not ignore the final verse of McCrae’s poem:

“Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from falling hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”

Editor’s Note: This is a slightly revised version of a story initial published by the American Forces Press Service in 2005.

The American Flag at Military Funerals

posted Aug 27, 2011, 1:51 AM by Info @NesloVentures   [ updated Aug 29, 2011, 9:19 AM by Neslo Ventures ]


Did you know that at military funerals, the 21 gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776?


Have you ever noticed the Honor Guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the flag 13 times? You probably thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but it's not. Read on to learn.

THE 1ST FOLD of our flag is a symbol of life.

THE 2ND FOLD is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

THE 3RD FOLD is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

THE 4TH FOLD represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war, for His divine guidance.

THE 5TH FOLD is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our Country, right or wrong."

THE 6TH FOLD is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

THE 7TH FOLD is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through them that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or Without the boundaries or our republic.

THE 8TH FOLD is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see,the light of day.

THE 9TH FOLD is a tribute to womanhood and Mothers. For it has been through their faith, their love, their loyalty, and their devotion, that the character of the men and women who have made this country great, has been molded.

THE 10TH FOLD is a tribute to the father, for he too has given his Sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.

THE 11TH FOLD represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies in the Hebrews eyes, the of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

THE 12TH FOLD represents an emblem of eternity, and glorifies in the Christians' eyes, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

THE 13TH FOLD, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are in the uppermost, reminding us of our nations motto, In God We Trust."

After the flag is completely folded, then tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the Sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today. There are some traditions and ways of doing things that have deep meaning. In the future, you'll see flags folded, and now you will know why. Share this with the children you love, and all others who love the symbol of "Liberty and Freedom!"

The Story of Taps

posted Aug 27, 2011, 1:34 AM by Info @NesloVentures   [ updated Mar 18, 2017, 9:36 PM by Neslo Ventures ]




Of all the military bugle calls, none is so easily recognized or more apt to render emotion than the call Taps. The melody is both eloquent and haunting and the history of its origin is interesting and somewhat clouded in controversy. Taps began as a revision to the signal for Extinguish Lights (Lights Out) bugle call that was used as the final call of the day and as the name implies, it was a signal to extinguish all fires and lights. Up until the Civil War, the infantry cal for Extinguish Lights was the one set down in Silas Casey's (1801-1882) Tactics, which had been borrowed from the French. The music for Taps was adapted by Union General Daniel Butterfield for his brigade in July, 1862.


As the story goes, General Butterfield was not pleased with the call for Extinguish Lights, feeling that the Call was too formal to signal the day’s end, and with the help of the brigade bugler, Oliver Willcox Norton, wrote Taps to honor his men while in camp at Harrison's Landing, Virginia, following the Seven Days battle. These battles took place during the Peninsular Campaign of 1862. The new call sounded that night in July, 1862, soon spread to other units of the Union Army and was reportedly also used by the Confederates. Taps was made an official bugle call after the war.

Why the name Taps? The most likely explanation is that the name was borrowed from a drummer's beat. The beating of a bedtime roll-call called Tattoo by the drum corps would be followed by the Drummer of the Guard beating three distinct drum taps at four count intervals for the military evolution Extinguish Lights. Following the call, three single drum strokes were beat at four-count intervals. This was known as the "Drum Taps" or in common usage of soldiers "The Taps" or "Taps."


It is not clear how or why Taps became associated with funerals. However, it's earliest official reference for use at military funeral ceremonies is found in the U.S. Army Infantry Drill Regulations for 1891.

The Patriotism of a Child

posted Aug 26, 2011, 11:54 PM by Info @NesloVentures   [ updated Oct 4, 2016, 10:44 PM by Neslo Ventures ]

Courtesy of The American Legion

Patriotism does not have an age requirement. In fact, sometimes it takes a child to remind us how special our country and our flag are.  Cody Alicea is a 14-year-old middle school student in Denair, California. Last year, during the week of Veterans Day, he made national news when an official at his school ordered him to remove a U.S.  Flag from his bicycle.  Incredibly, the school had banned national flags after tensions arose between flag-waving Cinco de Mayo celebrants and spectators bearing the Stars and Stripes. Cody was asked to remove the flag, it was explained, “for his own safety.”

This did not set well with Cody, who comes from a family with a proud tradition of military service. People from across the country rallied around Cody’s cause and it wasn’t long before the American Legion Riders and other patriots were escorting Cody to school – surrounded by hundreds of flags.  To be fair, the school realized the error of its policy, retracted the ban and quickly issued an apology. But this was clearly a case of a student educating his educators.  Adults who come up with such misguided policies are usually not trying to be unpatriotic. They just need a reminder about the exceptional nature of this country and its flag. And that’s why Flag Day is so important.

The Second Continental Congress adopted the flag of the United States by resolution on June 14, 1777.  In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation officially establishing June 14th as Flag Day. Although it is not a federal holiday, it is observed in communities across our great nation.  Flag Day isn’t simply about honoring a particular design on a cloth. It is more about taking time to reflect on our freedoms and the principles of our great nation…for which that flag stands.  The flag is a reminder of who we are.  In a broadcast shortly following the Sept. 11th attacks, Meet the Press host Tim Russert raised the ire of many in the media when he wore a flag pin on the air, as he grilled a Taliban spokesman.

Apparently, Mr. Russert’s show of patriotism somehow compromised his objectivity in the minds of some.  “Yes, I am a journalist, but first I am an American citizen,” the late host told The American Legion Magazine in 2007.  Tim Russert knew that one of the reasons he was able to be a journalist and ask tough questions of the powerful is because he was in a country that allowed him to do so. It is the same reason that we are able to be police officers, farmers, engineers, office workers, business owners or any other occupation of our choosing.  America is not only the land of the free, it is the land of opportunity. The flag represents all that America has to offer.

It is our hope.  Many Americans were offended when a misguided pastor desecrated a Koran. Americans everywhere should also be offended when someone desecrates our flag.  Fortunately, legislation is being considered in Washington, which would give Congress the constitutional authority to protect Old Glory from desecration.

Retired Army Major General Patrick H. Brady earned the Medal of Honor for his heroism in Vietnam. He said, “Many Americans have raised their right hand and sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. We believe that all Americans who put their right hand over their heart and recite the Pledge of Allegiance take that same oath. Both the oath and the pledge are taken in the presence of Old Glory to emphasize that our Flag is the symbol of our Constitution. We believe that – we the people – must exercise our right to rule by ensuring that the Court’s decision on flag-burning is not irrevocably fixed.”  And that decision – a 5-4 majority in the 1989 Supreme Court case Texas v. Johnson – invalidated flag protection laws that existed in 48 states and the District of Columbia. It is up to us to remind Congress that the flag belongs to “We, the People,” and the people want the Stars and Stripes protected.

Gatherings such as this are important, and we should always remember that it is much easier to fight for our flag in the halls of Congress than it was in the halls of Montezuma and other places where Americans have bled for Old Glory.  It is much easier for us to honor the flag in our comfortable surroundings than it was for Mike Christian.  Mike Christian was a naval aviator held in a Vietnamese prisoner of war camp with future Senator John McCain.

One day, using a bamboo needle and some cloth scraps he had gathered, Mike made a small U.S. Flag, which he sewed inside his shirt. Each morning, Mike would remove his shirt, and the POWs would say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. When it was discovered by the guards, they beat him severely.  “After things quieted down, I went to lie down to sleep,” Senator McCain recalled. “As I did, I happened to look in the corner of the room. Sitting there beneath a dim light bulb, with a piece of white cloth, a piece of red cloth, another shirt and his
bamboo needle, was my friend, Mike Christian. Sitting there, with his eyes almost shut from his beating, making another American flag. He was not making that flag because it made Mike Christian feel better.  He was making that flag because he knew how important it was for us to be able to pledge our allegiance to that flag and our country.”

As Cody Alicea, Tim Russert and Mike Christian have reminded us, patriotism is exhibited by Americans of all ages and under all conditions. And while it’s easy to be outraged over those who disrespect our country, our beliefs and our flag, it’s important and more rewarding to remember those who inspire us with their pride.  Thank you for being here. God Bless America and God Bless our Flag.


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