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A Piece of Cloth This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     The sounds of bullets tearing through the air destroy the silence of the morning. He hid, crouching behind a dilapidated embankment, fearing for his life. Then, the cool feeling of steel driving deep into his chest, burrowing into his heart, squeezed the last breath from him. And for what did this man, this soldier, die?

Explain to me the problem with the Pledge of Allegiance. Is it a burden? Is the time required to state the pledge stolen from your busy day? Or are you simply intellectually above paying homage to a piece of cloth hanging at the front of the classroom?

"A piece of cloth," that is what it has been called. Look closely: the red in those stripes is not simply a dye. No, it is the blood of that fallen soldier. The white? Look at it as the light that dying man saw at the end of the tunnel, the last image America's hero saw as he lay on a field of battle. Now look at the blue, the tears shed by those who loved the one who died for the sole purpose of letting you stand here today and contemplate the importance of this piece of cloth.

Explain to me why you sit in outright defiance, refusing to stand and place your hand over your heart, or why you speak of that flag as though it were an anathema. Explain to me the problem with the Pledge.

For Americans to move forward, we must understand from where we come. We must put our nation above ourselves. We must embody patriot Nathan Hale's words "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." We must truly, in the spirit of President Kennedy, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

Look around and note all of what is America, as it seems that some have begun to take this for granted and we must put these ideals above ourselves to ensure their continuation.

A Little League baseball game on a spring afternoon, that is America. The ability to practice any faith is America. A night at home with one's family, that too is America. And standing at the beginning of every school day to pay respect to those who have fallen to give us these gifts is absolutely America.

It is up to us now to direct the course of this country, as we begin to take the first steps toward adulthood. The choice is ours. Where this country will be in 50 years rests in our hands. This reconstruction of America finds its roots in looking within ourselves and understanding that for which we stand.

More important it rests in the understanding of where we have come from, and respecting these origins. Let us look at a history book and feel sorrow when we see the face of a young soldier who sacrificed his or her life for us. Let us feel for this stranger as we would feel for a brother or sister. Let us stand the next morning and salute the flag with that image in mind. May those seconds "stolen" from you at the beginning of the day become a period of internal reflection and external reverence. We must begin to look at that flag and see more than stitching and colors, much more than a burden at the beginning of the day, much more than a piece of cloth. ?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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dancer4jesus said...
Nov. 22, 2009 at 5:41 pm
That was amazing and very moving! I loved it! Thank you for writing it!
 
ClaudiaCobain said...
Jan. 18, 2009 at 5:37 pm
Wow. Just wow. This gave me chills. Beautifully written, and strong points galore.
 
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