Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Just a Few Cuts and Scratches, Mom"

This was written as a class project in my writing class at IUPUI in May 2009. The paper was on the topic of whether there should be an amendment to the Constitution to outlaw flag burning. The following is just the opening/introduction to the paper. It's a true story of my son's Iraq experience. The only time I cried when he was in Iraq was after I hung up the phone after talking with him when he called to tell us what happened and that he had "....just a few cuts and scratches, mom."


The military vehicle exploded in smoke and flame when it ran over the landmine, severely wounding the commander in the rear of the vehicle. The sergeant tried to radio for a medic before discovering his mouthpiece was just a hanging wire because the radio had been blown up. He started to grab his rifle that was right next to him, but the barrel had been melted into a candy cane shape from the explosion. Shouting for a medic, he pulled the commander from the burning wreckage that was turning black with ash from the flame, and tended to his wounds, simultaneously shouting orders to the other soldiers to secure the location and protect the platoon until reinforcements could get in and evacuate them. At some point, a soldier said, “Sergeant, shouldn’t you take care of that blood pouring out of your arm?” The 21 year old sergeant, in his haste to protect his men, hadn’t even noticed he’d been hit.

And when my son, United States Marine Sergeant John Meyer received his Purple Heart for injuries incurred in the line of duty in Iraq, and the Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medal for bravery, it was the American Flag, the icon for which he voluntarily risked his life, that held his eye, its bright colors of freedom a striking contrast to the bland background of the Iraqi desert.

Thousands of miles away, in the United States, a protester illustrated his contempt for the war by pulling out a lighter and setting fire to the American Flag, its bright colors of freedom turning black with ash from the flame.

Most people automatically assume that this Mother-of-a-Marine would be in favor of an amendment that made desecration or burning the flag a crime. But to the contrary, it is because of my son and every other military son that I do not endorse such an amendment. I believe these sons of America, those today and those of yesteryear, fought to protect the ideals and freedoms represented by this flag ….. including the right to protest and voice disagreement with the very country our sons fight to protect.

"Most people live their entire life and wonder if they've made a difference. Marines don't have that problem." ...... Ronald Reagan

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