Freedom flies

Flag Day elicits variety of emotions

Jim Meineke took his share of bullets fighting for the freedom of America. He came home to tell his story. For so many others, the story ends on foreign soil fighting for the freedoms to which all Americans are entitled.

An Act of Congress in 1949 signed by President Harry Truman declared June 14 of each year National Flag Day. The history of Flag Day dates back to 1885 when a school teacher in Fredonia, Wis., encouraged students to commemorate the anniversary of the American flag.

Craig Eagle Scout Lincoln Cleverly will begin his day early by posting flags along Victory Way to be viewed by passers-by until dusk. The project, which he started three years ago as a fund-raiser to send boys to Scout Camp, is a tradition that Cleverly will pass down to his younger brother next year.

"I do it because it looks like our town is patriotic and supports America," he said.

For so many others, Flag Day represents freedom and its price.

"I spent 26 years in the military, and (the flag) doesn't represent red, white and blue material," Bud Nelson said. "It represents the people who went before me, the people who died alongside me and the people fighting in Iraq."

Annette Gianinetti didn't serve in the military or fight overseas, but her co-workers call her "the patriot," because her respect for America is visible in every aspect of her life from the clothing and jewelry she wears to the bug guard on her vehicle.

"I'm patriotic to the core," she said. "America is about freedom, and we take everything in America for granted. If it wasn't such a great place, then why are so many people coming here?"

For others, the American flag marks time spent in the war, the freedoms that America represents and the ability to make choices.

"Anytime I see a flag flying in a parade or see one raised, it gives me goose pimples to think about what has gone on to keep those stripes up there," retired National Guard member Frank Sadvar said. "I think of those kids over there in Iraq right now, and what they are doing for us over here."

Meineke gets emotional when he talks about the American flag.

"I was fighting to keep Communism out of America and to keep people free," he said. "It gets to me."

In recent months, members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 have expressed concern about the number of individuals in Moffat County who fail to salute the flag, stand and remove their hats when a flag passes in a parade or during the National Anthem, but Meineke hopes this is a trend that is on the way out.

"Parents don't instill in their children the value of our flag," he said. "They don't do it out of respect, but they do it out of a lack of knowledge."

But Meineke thinks that there is more patriotism now than when he returned from the war in Korea.

One thing is certain -- the flag doesn't fly for politicians or individuals, it flies for the country and those who fight for her, he said.

"In a lot of countries, the flag doesn't mean anything," said Nelson. "I brought friends of mine back in body bags from Vietnam. Those guys beside me who were killed -- that's what I stand up for."

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