The American Flag

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“Please rise for the national anthem and the presentation of the colors.” Immediately, the thousands of people attending this Memorial Day program rise in reverent silence. It’s 9:30 in morning, the sun illuminates the Star-Spangled Banner, and the wind lifts Her gently for all to see. It’s go time.

“Guard, A-ten-HUT!” The energy that has built up in my diaphragm unleashes as my voice breaks the stillness. All eyes turn to the cadets that comprise the color guard: to the Pennsylvania flag-bearer on my left; to the two flanking riflemen; and to the American flag rippling brightly, anchored to my arm.

“Carry, COLORS!” The Pennsylvania flag-bearer and I hoist our flags up, and the riflemen lift their weapons to their shoulders, all in perfect synchronization.

“Forward, MARCH!” Together, we step off, shoulder to shoulder. We march as a team, relying on each other’s pace to stay in step as we maneuver towards the audience’s front and center.

“Guard, HALT! Present, COLORS!” We immediately stop. The Pennsylvania Flag dips to a precise 45 degree angle, the rifles move crisply to the saluting position, and the American Flag stands proudly in all Her glory. I hear the snare drums roll, and I feel a tingle down my spine, as the band...

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