U.S. Flag Sustained POW

Dear Young American,

Envision your country's flag. You salute it when you enter the classroom. It flies over your school, your parades, parks and playgrounds. You honor it in church or synagogue.
It flies, too, from your own front porch, in your backyard, on a camp pole.

Yes, you recognize the Stars and Stripes. But is it saying something to you? Are you angered when you see it defiled or ridiculed? Does your heart throb? Do your eyes glisten with tears when you behold it unfurled in the breeze? Or is patriotism perhaps like religion?
You don't know if you've "got it" until you need it?

I was once a young American, too, and no more or less patriotic than you. I pledged allegiance to the flag and sang "America" as best I could, until Adolph Hitler raised a heavy hand and smashed his fist into the heart of Europe, until Japan directed a savage attack on our shores.

I was launched into a wartime world I could never have imagined.

I became a soldier. My comrades and I followed our flag as it billowed against a gray sky. We saw the colors ground into the sands of Bataan, on the coral of Corregidor. I watched our flag until it was no longer there to watch.
We surrendered to overpowering Japanese armed forces in Bataan. I was marched along at bayonet point; I existed under a flag that boasted a rising sun.

What my captors failed to realize is that although they shaved my head, starved my body, deprived my soul and denied me basic human rights, an American flag fluttered on in my heart. Pride in what the "Red, White, and Blue" stands for buoyed my spirit. God watched over me, my compatriots sustained me, and I survived.

Can you understand what a blessed, beautiful sight that flag was to me when I viewed it at last in San Francisco? Why that flag waves to me from sea to shining sea, beckoning me to my family? That flag cried out:

"Look, look! I'm flying still! I always will!"
I did look. I wept. I thank the Lord above for returning me home to this good land.

And now, will you do something for me? Take another look, a good hard look, at the flag!

Manuel Eneriz

Credit: Ventura County Star June 14th, 2007
 

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