Today I had the honor and privilege of watching as CDR Sylvia Young retire after thirty-two years in United States Navy. Her ceremony was held on the USS Missouri. Just being on the Mighty Moe is enough to give me goosebumps. It was on the decks of that ship that World War II came to an end with the surrender of the Japanese. On Sept. 2, 1945 General MacArthur said, ” Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always. These proceedings are closed!” and the war was over. The Mighty Moe wasn’t finished with her career then. She was back at work in 1991 while I was busy graduating from high school during Operation Desert Storm. The stories that I hear aching to get out beneath the boards on her deck are staggering. Today, I watched as another was etched into the walls of a great ship.
As I waited for the start of the ceremonies, I sat watching the flags wave all over Ford Island firmly planted at half mast. I watched the white uniforms move about and heard the whistles blow. The band played the Star Spangled Banner and I got goosebumps. I listened as a career that spanned 32 years as a naval doctor came to an end. On any day, I love the pomp and circumstance. Today I let it soak in. I sat wishing that every American could watch The Ceremonial Passing of Old Glory. I had to fight to hold back tears as the poem was read. Since you couldn’t be there with me, I’m pasting the poem here. I dare anyone to watch as the flag passes hand to hand of these sailors and not feel the need to shed a tear.
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 institutions 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 Loved, and I am feared!
I have fought in every battle of every war for more than two hundred years:
Gettysburg, Shiloh, Appomattox, San Juan Hill, the trenches of France, the Argon Forest, Anzio, Rome, Pearl Harbor, the beaches of Normandy, Guam, Okinawa, Japan, Korea, Viet Nam, the Persian Gulf, and a score of other places long forgotten by all but those who were there with me.
I was there.
I led my Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines,
I followed them, and watched over them. They love me.
I was on a small hill on 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 in the streets of countries that 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 own country, but when it is by those whom I have served with in battle, it HURTS!
But I shall overcome – for I am strong.
I have slipped the bonds of earth, and from my vantage point on the moon, I stand watch over the uncharted new frontiers of space.
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 as a bandage for my wounded comrades on the field of battle,
— when I fly at half mast to honor my Soldiers, my Sailors, my Airmen, my Marines,
— and when I lie in the trembling arms of a grieving mother – at the graveside of her fallen son or daughter.
I am proud – My name is Old Glory!
Long may I wave, dear God. Long may I wave.
I wish that every American could feel the sense of pride I feel when I watch our service members move through ceremonies. They love our country and stand watch for us. I’m sure after watching all the news yesterday, the chord struck much harder. I’m sure my chest is a little more puffed with pride. It is an amazing thing to watch. I wish everyone could see it.
Also know that I’m super proud of this guy.