A Piece of Cloth


A few years ago, I was in my car listening to a radio call-in-talk show and the topic of conversation was that of whether it was proper for people to bum the American flag in protest or if it was a protected individual freedom. During the talk show, someone called in and said they didn't understand what all the controversy was about over "just a piece of cloth." The image struck me immediately of the Marines on Iwo Jima with their faces down in volcanic ash and looking up at Mount Suribachi to see the flag being raised. Surely, they didn't consider it to be just a piece of cloth.
When I arrived home that evening, I put the following thoughts down on paper and I believe that this expresses my beliefs and my feelings of who I am and the love that I have for this country, entitled it:


                                           "JUST A PIECE OF CLOTH"

I was with Colonel Parker and the Minutemen at Lexington and Concord to hear "The Shot Heard 'Round The World" that began the American Revolution. I was with General Washington when he crossed the Delaware and suffered with his men in the harsh winter at Valley Forge.
Did they fight and die for just a piece of cloth?
I was with Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys at Ticonderoga and with Washington, Hancock, and the Marquis de Lafayette to accept surrender terms at Yorktown with the British playing that old European tune "The World Turned Upside Down"
Did they fight and die for just a piece of cloth?
I was with Andrew Jackson and Jean Laffite at the Battle of New Orleans in 1812. 1 was with Bowie, Crockett, and Travis at the Alamo.
Did they fight and die for -just a piece of cloth?
I was with Lee and Longstreet and all the Boys in Gray at Gettysburg and I was with all the Boys in Blue with General Mead and Colonel Chamberlain on Little Round Top. I was with Grant in the Wilderness and at Vicksburg. I was with both the Blue and the Gray when our country was healed at Appomattox.
Did they fight and die for just a piece of cloth?
I was with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders on San Juan Hill and with Admiral Dewey and the Great White Fleet in Manila Bay. I was with the Doughboys in World War I, the "War To End All Wars" and now lie buried in Flanders Field.
Did they fight and die for just a piece of cloth?
I was with Admiral Isaac Kidd aboard the ARIZONA that fateful Sunday morning in 1941. I was with the infantry that landed on beaches so far away named Omaha, Juno, Utah, Sword and Gold.
Did they fight and die for just a piece of cloth?
I was with General Wainwright on Correigador. I was with Admiral Fletcher in the Battle of the Coral Sea. I was aboard ENTERPRISE, HORNET and YORKTOWN at Midway.
Did they fight and die for just a piece of cloth?
I fought at Kwajalein, The Battle of Leyte Gulf, at bloody Tarawa, Guadalcanal, and Iwo Jima and served on destroyers on picket duty off Okinawa.
Did they fight and die for -just a piece of cloth?
I flew Saber Jets in MIG Alley in North Korea and I was with the Marines at Chosin Reservoir. I was with the Navy at Inchon Harbor and fought on hills and ridges called Bloody, Heartbreak, Old Baldy, and Porkchop.
Did they fight and die for -oust a piece of cloth?
I flew bombing missions over Hanoi and was on Rat patrol in the Mekong Delta. I was with the Navy on Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf. I flew night missions over Bagdad and was with the battalions in Desert Storm.
Did they fight and die for just a piece of cloth?
Freedom is not free. It has a price and it has been paid many times by many people. I am a product of my past. I am an American and I am free.

The above was written and presented to Tin Can Sailors Association Banquet at the annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 6, 1996 by:
H. Maury Drummond
Executive Director, Louisiana War Memorial (Includes USS KIDD) President, Historic Naval Ships Association

Used by permission of author