Julie Boren: Kathy Bankert’s ‘A Piece of Cloth’
To the editor:
The following piece was written by Kathy Bankert and was acquired courtesy of the Meeker Museum:
They say I'm just a piece of cloth with stripes and stars, no feelings, but that's not true. I do have feelings. I'm not supposed to hear, so they say, but I do. From the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific Coast, I hear what they say about me, about my country. They think that i can't see but I can. I've seen the bloody battles in which our boys have fought, and lost their lives; and I've seen my nation go through times of distress and times of gladness. And through all I was there, holding myself up proudly in the wind.
When good ol' Betsy started to piece me together I had only one thought in mind. Would i last? And I have. Not once have I fallen. I've had my doubts once or twice, but we've pulled through.
I've been in each of the wars that our country has fought in. And during each war, the same thought has kept crowding into my mind, and that was how much those men must love their country, to put their lives on the line for it.
I was with George at the Delaware. I was with Abraham when he got innaugurated, when he asked for volunteers to fight in the Civil War, and I knew his anguish. I waved proudly above him as he read the Gettysburgh Address, and I wept unseen tears as I covered his casket.
I moved westward with the pioneers and greeted the immigrants as the came forth to settle our land. I felt the same way Wilson did after signing the Peace Treaty at Versailles, elated. I stood by the people of the United States during the Depression, and not once did I let them down. I was at Pearl Harbor and I know what it is like to be near death. I stood by Truman as he made the decision concerning the H-bomb, and my train of thoughts followed his. I was with our men in Vietnam, fighting, but what for?
I was with them all. I know of the unspoken hopes and fears because I have thought them. I am old, and some say I won't last, but believe my, I'm going to try. I've lived through the wars and the growth of our nation, and I'm sure that whatever lays ahead we'll meet together, as we've done before. They've burnt me, and trampled me, but I have never given up hope. Because when I get done, I think if all the caskets that i have covered and what they stood for.
So next time nation, for I speak to you as a whole-- next time you look up and see me waving proudly in the wind, remember what I have said. For we must work always together to keep ahead. I am the symbol of a strong nation, but it takes a strong people to make a strong nation.
The Meeker Museum