Every Star, Every Stripe, Stands For 'The Brave'

By JOHN M. DERBY
TIMES PUBLISHER
November 16, 2017

I was young then, barely out of college, with a young wife who was carrying my unborn son.
To be honest, I had no idea why I was being sent to that cold wasteland called Korea.
Several thousand young men and I were packed on a troop ship which docked into Inchon harbor near Seoul and we were being told we had come to fight for Democracy and our flag.
The battlefield was a small peninsula on the other side of the world, which was trying to defend itself against the Chinese Communists and North Korea.
I was trained as a medic because someone said a Social Science major would make a good medical corps man.
Wrong! I hated the sight of blood. Picking up body parts after a soldier had stepped on a land mine was not my idea of combat.
Somehow, by the luck of God, I was given the job of being a reporter for the Medical Battalion, and later became a news correspondent for nine battalions from Seoul to Panmunjom where the peace talks were held.
I fell in love with the job and it became the job of my life.
Last year, I traveled back to that country, and I saw, first hand, what our sacrifice had made possible for the people of South Korea.
Many Koreans said: “Thank you, for your service” when they found out I was a veteran of the Korean War. Others got up from their seats on the subway in respect for what our soldiers gave these people.
Their Democracy, is today, a standout among all the countries in the world.
That is why I write to you about what our men did in that war — the one they called a conflict. Excuse me! Tell the parents of those who died that this was just a conflict.
I saw the aftermath. I know the difference between a war and a conflict.
We must remind our friends and family that there is no such thing as a good war. All wars are a loss to both sides.
We also need to remind others that the flag we fly is not just an ornament to be displayed to add color to a parade.
Every star, every stripe is a symbol of the bravery of those who fought for it. When you see someone who kneels in disrespect for that flag it shows that person has no sense of the history of this country, the people, and the flag which stands in honor of us all.
Today, we seem to have lost our way. People who have never fought, have never seen death, and have not been there when the battle is won or lost, don’t recognize how important the flag is to our country.
We can’t help them because they know not what they do.
Those of us who have been there and know, need only to say "The flag you desecrate is the same flag which stands for the right of all Americans to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.”


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