What does the shining Stars & Stripes American flag mean to me?”

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. (Retired) Albert Valdez
  • 412th Test Wing

For me personally it represents the greatest country!  As a 24-year military veteran, and a 19-year retired federal service employee, I’m extremely proud for what this magnificent flag signifies. At the young age of 18, July 18, 1968, after completing high school I enlisted into the U.S. Air Force to serve my country. As so many men and women in arms before me, who willingly served our country by performing duties in faraway lands and seas, I offer my warmest gratitude for your service. Your many journeys, sacrifices and the challenges that you braved will ensure keeping this country free, safe, strong, and enduring.

As a veteran my journeys included four tours of duty in two foreign regions and its where I personally witnessed firsthand how consistently our shining Stars & Stripes flag always stood out whenever it was posted. Wherever we might be deployed, whether in isolated desert terrains, over the deepest oceans, or infinity blue skies there will always be our Stars & Stripes flag close at hand to render our salutes. When one sees it waving so freely and humble even on cold windy days, its awesome display makes anyone feel proud in just knowing they played an important role in supporting our United States Armed Forces team.

While many citizens may never have the same opportunities in experiencing these profound feelings as serving their country in uniform, I aimed to briefly share mine with others. I will always consider myself very grateful, and incredibly fortunate in being able to serve our country. Upon my military retirement it was my greatest honor to have been awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, a first in my family.

So, within the warm comforts of your home, and even on cold windy days, you might also witness the shining Stars & Stripes flag waving ever so proudly. We all need reminders regarding our current active-duty service members and federal service employees who are proudly serving around the world. Their self-sacrificing actions afford everyone of us at home the freedoms and lifestyles this great country has to offer.

To conclude and with all due respect, in our own homeland, our flags must also always be displayed with honor and given the admiration it earns. Showing off your pride no matter whether at home or places of business will always make long-lasting impressions. For me personally, as a veteran it’s upsetting, sad, and very disappointing to say that I have observed our very own homeland shining Stars & Stars flag being posted within our local communities as tattered and in just plain view for all to see. As a united country, we are so much better than this and it’s not why we fought and sacrificed for. So, you might just simply ask yourself the following question: “What does the shining Stars & Stripes American flag mean to me?”