I saved a flag, Iraq and video tribute to IGTNT I can’t use

( – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

Cross posted at Daily KOS

A while back I got the urge to visit Goodwill, I rarely do because the days of bargains are long gone around here. But I also know even if I’m not shopping for anything when I get that urge I will find something I didn’t know I needed until I get there. I also found a parking spot close to the door, another sign I was going home with something. I hit the furniture section and didn’t see anything and then headed down the back wall something I never do, when I spotted it hanging on a hanger amidst some curtains. A flag. Not just any flag mind you, but a special flag, the creases from it’s unmistakable triangular fold still visible. It was a interment flag, used to drape the coffin of a veteran or soldier who died in action.  

I can’t imagine how the flag came to be in Goodwill, it was new, not something that had spent time in a trunk or on a drawer out of the way. Did the people at Goodwill unfold it? What must they have thought as they did and why didn’t one of them rescue it? I wondered a lot of things at home refolding the flag. It brought back a flood of memories.

I still have my POW/MIA bracelet,  James Albert Champion. You can read his story here  here and here.  I wore the bracelet for years, until his name had become nearly unreadable. I wait patiently with those who loved him for his return. We wait with 93,208 other families hoping for their loved ones to come home. Memories of the anger I felt at normalization relations with the government of Vietnam without a full accounting. My anger at Pepsi Cola for having a bottling plant there before it was legal, oh thats right they gave away what they bottled, doesn’t count I guess. Dozens of US comapnies set up offices before the embargo was lifted. My class mates lost, those who would never be the same, home but lost none the less. Memories of the flag I burned in protest to the war and welcoming home the broken.

The more things change the more they stay the same. The word war has a special meaning and memories as I am sure it does for anyone who as lived during a time of conflict. But we must never forget the human toll. Not just ours, but theirs as well. In Iraq the toll simply staggers our ability to comprehend, more than 1.2 million dead, 5 million refugees either in other countries or wandering their own looking for a safe place. More than a million maimed and broken in a country that has been laid waste by Bush. Those who can get out walk out. Imagine if you can walking from Baghdad to the Syrian border, 324 miles thru what is largely waste land? There is no punishment that will ever be enough for the crimes committed by G.W Bush, nope, not a single one.

To date we have lost 4457 in Iraq and Afghanistan, 307 coalition troups. 30,000 wounded and another 20,000 with traumatic brain injuries that aren’t even counted. It is important to remember to human toll, the lives gone and interrupted. I visit the IGTNT diaries, read and recommend. I give the link to the series to everyone with an email. The IGTNT team is doing such important work, I know their tributes must be meaningful for the families. Their loved one’s stop being a casualty number and are remember as the vibrant human beings they were. We get to know a little bit about them and in some small way share the grief of the families. Sadly, the one thing we would all wish to do, we cannot.

What I don’t do with IGTNT diaries is post to them very often. Words will always fail me at times like that. Afraid I will say the wrong thing and the last thing I would ever want to do is bring more pain to them. Doesn’t stop me from wanting to comment, needing to, I just leave it those who can find the appropriate words. What I do understand and what often speaks for me are images. I hit upon the idea of doing a short slide show, a memorial tribute, images I could use instead of words.

I started it yesterday, made my rough cut and took a look. The intention was to better understand. I can’t post it to the IGTNT diary tonight or ever, it is too much. But if you are willing to excuse the timing errors on slides and music and layout mess ups I will share the rough cut with you.

It is  just a small bit of the incredible sadness felt about this war, the sadness so difficult to articulate.

It is so important we remember, witness their sacrifice and understand the magnitude of their loss. Please visit the IGTNT diaries tonight and every time they are posted. It truly is I believe, the finest part of Daily KOS.  


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  1. heart.  All the way around, you’ve shown the edge, with razor sharpness, of the horrible tragedy of our soldiers.  No, we cannot forget!

    Thank you for this effort — certainly, not an easy one!

  2. That is what it says on the pamphlet the Honor Guard handed me two weeks ago at my father’s funeral. He was a World War ll veteran, Army Air Force. At his funeral, two representatives of the United States Air Force Base Honor Guard performed the military burial honors, with flag folding, the playing of taps, and then solemnly presented me with a salute and the triangularly folded flag that had draped my dad’s coffin. They also gave me a small leaflet explaining the solemn tradition of military honors and presenting of the flag. I carried that folded flag on my lap on the plane ride back home, feeling it’s stiff almost rough texture, thinking about my father and his great love of the simple fact that he was an American. He passed away while voting on Febuary 5th. He was so thrilled to be able to vote in each election, local, state, or national. It was something he found comforting. Much like that flag I sat with on my lap. I can’t imagine parting with it.

    Grave-side Ceremonies and Display of the Burial Flag

    The United States Flag Code specifies that the burial flag should NEVER be allowed to touch the ground, nor is it to be lowered into the ground with the casket.  The proper procedure at the conclusion of the grave-side ceremony is:

       * The Burial Flag is lifted waist-high by the pallbearers and held in this position for the playing of “Taps”.


         Upon the conclusion of the playing of “Taps” the Flag is properly folded into a triangle.

       * The folded flag is then presented to the deceased veteran’s next of kin “On behalf of a grateful Nation”.

       * The folded burial flag becomes the property of the Veteran’s family, to honor the memory of one who has served the cause of freedom.


    From the USAF pamphlet:

    Flag Folding Ceremony (Air Force Script)

    For more than 200 years, the American flag has been the symbol of our nation’s unity, as well as a source of pride and inspiration for millions of citizens.

    Born on June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress determined that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternating between seven red and six white; and that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.1

    Between 1777 and 1960, the shape and design of the flag evolved into the flag presented before you today. The 13 horizontal stripes represent the original 13 colonies, while the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well; red symbolizes hardiness and valor; white signifies purity and innocence; and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.1

    Traditionally, a symbol of liberty, the American flag has carried the message of freedom, and inspired Americans, both at home and abroad.

    In 1814, Francis Scott Key was so moved at seeing the Stars and Stripes waving after the British shelling of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry that he wrote the words to The Star Spangled Banner.3

    In 1892 the flag inspired Francis Bellamy to write the “Pledge of Allegiance,” our most famous flag salute and patriotic oath.3

    In July 1969 the American flag was “flown” in space when Neil Armstrong planted it on the surface of the moon.3

    Today, our flag flies on constellations of Air Force satellites that circle our globe, and on the fin flash of our aircraft in harms way in every corner of the world. Indeed, it flies in the heart of every Airman who serves our great Nation. The sun never sets on our US Air Force, nor on the flag we so proudly cherish.3

    Since 1776 no generation of Americans has been spared the responsibility of defending freedom… Today’s Airmen remain committed to preserving the freedom that others won for us, for generations to come.

    By displaying the flag and giving it a distinctive fold we show respect to the flag, and express our gratitude to those individuals who fought, and continue to fight for freedom, at home and abroad. Since the dawn of the 20th century, Airmen have proudly flown the flag in every major conflict on lands and skies around the world. It is their responsibility … our responsibility … to continue to protect and preserve the rights, privileges and freedoms that we, as Americans, enjoy today.

    The United States flag represents who we are. It stands for the freedom we all share and the pride and patriotism we feel for our country. We cherish its legacy, as a beacon of hope to one and all. Long may it wave.


    On behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation,  our country’s flag is presented as a token of appreciation for many years of faithful and honorable service.

    If that doesn’t make your heart ache, nothing will.

    I’m so glad you were able to rescue that flag. Treasure it.

  3. Your whole story is great, actually. But the video — are you sure you can’t post it at IGTNT? I’m one of the regular diarists and it would be most welcome — a very fitting addition to the memorials. And thanks so much for mentioning IGTNT —  I’m sending a link to both stories to the whole team right now. Beautifully done!    

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