Piece of cloth represents what's great about U.S.

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By Ed McAteer

Howard Schnauber wrote, “My Name Is Old Glory.”  You see, it is all about a piece of cloth that I hold dear. People use this cloth often. Most do so with pride.

Although sometimes ragged, and sometimes torn, this cloth looms atop the world’s tallest buildings, and stands watch in America’s halls of justice. always-standing guard with power throughout the world. Peace, honor, truth, justice, and freedom.

That is exactly what she stands for. This cloth has fought in every battle of every war for more than 200 years.

“I am confident.  I am arrogant.  I am proud.  I bow to no one!”

Through the years, the nightmares help me relive all too well, it was a beautiful sunlit Panhandle Tuesday morning when 19 terrorist barbarians attacked America in a series of despicable acts. They hijacked four passenger jets, crashed two of them into the World Trade Center’s twin towers and a third into the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense at the Pentagon, causing great loss of life and damage.

“I led my troops, I was dirty, battle worn and tired, but my soldiers cheered me and I was proud. I have been burned, torn, and trampled on the streets of countries I have helped set free. It does not hurt, for I am invincible.”

The favor of God was with us. I, with Terry Day and Brenda Straw, only 96 hours earlier had canceled our reservation on American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles. You may remember this flight as the first plane commandeered which hit the North Tower at 8:46:40 a.m.

The war on terrorism became personal for me and should be for every person living in America.

“I have been soiled upon, burned, torn, and trampled on the streets of my country. And, when it’s by those whom I’ve served in battle –  it hurts.  But I shall overcome – for I am strong.”

The fourth plane crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside, killing all on board, but falling short of its intended target clearly because of the heroic efforts of passengers on board. I close my eyes and see the tangled steel of the twin towers, the broken walls of the Pentagon, and the smoke-filled wreckage in that Pennsylvania field.

It was “We the People” after 9/11, standing as one people, united in our compassion and our sadness.  We mourned for those who perished and remembered what brought us together as Americans.  

“I have slipped the bonds of Earth and stood watch over the uncharted frontiers of space from my vantage point on the moon.  I have borne silent witness to all of America’s finest hours. But my finest hours are yet to come.”

In the aftermath, we saw the greatness of America come alive in the bravery of victims and the heroism of first responders who laid down their lives to save others.

We saw the kindness of people who stepped forward to help those they had never met.

Our brave men and women in uniform stepped forward on that day to fight our enemies abroad so we do not have to face them here at home.

“When I am torn into strips and used as bandages for my wounded comrades on the battlefield, when I am flown at half-mast to honor my soldier, or when I lie in the trembling arms of a grieving parent at the grave of their fallen son or daughter, I am proud.”

America must remain strong as we remember all those taken from us in an instant by terrorism. This nation cannot allow its spirit or strength to become frail with the passage of time.

Vindication of the massive 9/11 loss of life can only come by remaining focused on rooting out and bringing to justice the terrorists living today and removing the root causes that grow terrorists for tomorrow.

May God Bless America, again.

My name is Old Glory. Long may I wave.