am the flag of the United States of America.
My name is Old Glory.
I fly atop the world's tallest buildings.
I stand watch in America's halls of justice.
I fly majestically over institutions of learning.
I stand guard with power in the world.
Look up and see me.
stand for peace, honor, truth and justice.
I stand for freedom.
I am confident.
I am arrogant.
I am proud.
I am flown with my fellow banners,
My head is a little higher,
My colors a little truer.
I bow to no one!
I am recognized all over the world.
I am worshipped ~ I am saluted.
I am loved ~ I am revered.
I am respected ~ and I am feared.
have fought in every battle of every war for more then 200 years.
I was flown at Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Shiloh and Appomattox.
I was there at San Juan Hill, the trenches of France, in the
Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome and the beaches of Normandy. Guam,
Okinawa, Korea and KheSan, Saigon, Vietnam know me.
I'm presently in the mountains of Afganistan and the hot and
dusty deserts of Iraq and wherever freedom is needed.
I led my troops, I was dirty, battleworn and tired,
But my soldiers cheered me and I was proud.
have been burned, torn and trampled on the streets of countries
I have helped set free.
It does not hurt for I am invincible.
I have been soiled upon, burned, torn and trampled in the streets
of my country.
And when it's done by those Whom I've served in battle ~ it
But I shall overcome ~ for I am strong.
I have slipped the bonds of Earth and stood watch over the uncharted
frontiers of space from my vantage point on the moon.
I have borne silent witness to all of America's finest hours.
But my finest hours are yet to come.
When I am torn into strips and used as bandages for my wounded
comrades on the battlefield,
When I am flown at half-mast to honor my soldier,
Or when I lie in the trembling arms of a grieving parent at
the grave of their fallen son or daughter,
I am proud.
~ Texas Style ~
follows is a message from Vicki Pierce about her nephew James'
(he was serving our country in Iraq):
back, it was certainly a quick trip, but I have to also say
it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. There
is a lot to be said for growing up in a small town in Texas.
service itself was impressive with wonderful flowers and sprays,
a portrait of James, his uniform and boots, his awards and ribbons.
There was lots of military brass and an eloquent (though inappropriately
longwinded) Baptist preacher. There were easily 1000 people
at the service, filling the church sanctuary as well as the
fellowship hall and spilling out into the parking lot.
the most incredible thing was what happened following the service
on the way to the cemetery. We went to our cars and drove to
the cemetery escorted by at least 10 police cars with lights
flashing and some other emergency vehicles, with Texas Rangers
handling traffic. Everyone on the road who was not in the procession,
pulled over, got out of their cars, and stood silently and respectfully,
some put their hands over their hearts, some had small flags.
keepers came outside with their customers and did the same thing.
Construction workers stopped their work, got off their equipment
and put their hands over their hearts, too. There was no noise
whatsoever except a few birds and the quiet hum of cars going
slowly up the road.
we turned off the highway suddenly there were teenage boys along
both sides of the street about every 20 feet or so, all holding
large American flags on long flag poles, and again with their
hands on their hearts. We thought at first it was the Boy Scouts
or 4H club or something, but it continued .... for two and a
of young people, standing silently on the side of the road with
flags. At one point we passed an elementary school, and all
the children were outside, shoulder to shoulder holding flags
... kindergartners, handicapped, teachers, staff, everyone.
held signs of love and support. Then came teenage girls and
younger boys, all holding flags. Then adults. Then families.
All standing silently on the side of the road. No one spoke,
not even the very young children. The last few turns found people
crowded together holding flags or with their hands on their
hearts. Some were on horseback.
military presence...at least two generals, a fist full of colonels,
and representatives from every branch of the service, plus the
color guard which attended James, and some who served with him
... was very impressive and respectful, but the love and pride
from this community who had lost one of their own was the most
amazing thing I've ever been privileged to witness.
attached some pictures, some are blurry (we were moving), but
you can get a small idea of what this was like."
with permission of the editor
summer comes the Fourth of July, a time when we celebrate
our freedom and honor those who served and are still serving
in the Armed Forces.
(the) cover is Erik Lopez, a young man who grew up here
in Redlands and has just returned home from Iraq. I had
a chance to sit in on the interview with Erik and could
hardly believe that this was the same person who, as a child
played football with my son in front of our home.
am proud of you, Erik. On behalf of Redlands, and the rest
of the United States, thank you.
can read about Erik (below) ~ a story
of courage, faith, and decisiveness ~ written by Brad L.
Smith, who also served our country well in Vietnam.
Eric Negron, Editor
MOMENT OF TRUTH
by Brad L. Smith
massive explosion left him dazed; unsteady on his legs. Only
his training and keen sense of duty kept him vertical. Lance
Corporal Erik Lopez, USMC, took up the slack as his finger tightened
on the trigger. Any one of the dozens of Iraqis running toward
his position could be another suicide bomber ~ and both his
training and his duty told him to open fire....
I was five years old I've always wanted to be a Marine and
a pastor" said 22-year-old Erik Lopez. Erik was born
in East Los Angeles. His family lived in Montebello before
his dad got a better job as a social worker and the Lopez
family moved to Redlands. Young Erik attended Lugonia and
Crafton Elementary Schools, Moore Middle School, and REV,
before graduating from Redlands High.
2001, shortly after "9-11," Erik joined the Marine
Corps Reserves. After the first year, however, he was called
up to active duty. He was sent to the Alasad Air Base ~ the
second largest U.S. Air Base in Iraq ~ 100 miles west of Baghdad.
There, with the Military Police, he manned this key installation's
ECP (Entry Control Point) ~ the most dangerous job on the
October 23, 2004, Lance Corporal Lopez was at his post with
two other Marines. A taxi cab drove up and got in the wrong
line. This wasn't all that uncommon, since the Iraqi police
who train on the American base often come to classes by taxi.
They've mistakenly pulled into the wrong line before. This
time, however, it was no mistake. The cab was packed with
155 mm Russian rockets and a detonator!
was about 150 feet away when it blew," said Erik. "I
remember seeing a bright light. It felt like the shock wave
went right through me. I thought I lost my legs, and then
realized I was running. If you've ever had a dream where you're
running in slow motion, that's what it was like. My legs felt
made it to a defensive position and dug in for the worst.
SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) is not to allow anyone
on the base after an initial attack. Now Iraqi civilians were
swarming toward him. He didn't know which of them were "friendlies,"
looking for safety, and which might be other suicide bombers.
Time was running out; they were crossing the tank track, the
point where you "shoot first and ask questions later."
was pumped up," recalled Erik. "My adrenaline was
going. I felt threatened. There was a bunch of guys coming
down that little funnel of barbed wire fast. It takes just
one of those guys with an explosive vest, and forget it, you're
done for. I started to pull the trigger, when I felt something
compelling me to use the megaphone instead."
picked up the megaphone and shouted in Arabic for them to
stop. For once, they listened to him, he said. Later he found
out that a whole squad of his fellow Marines was deployed
at a higher position behind him, waiting for the first shot.
If Erik had fired, they all would have opened up on the remaining
Iraqis. It would have been a massacre! "The LORD must
have been looking after them," said Erik.
his grace under fire and for keeping his cool, Erik was awarded
the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal. "The LORD is
good," said Erik. "Everyone who saw the cab explode
thought for sure we were all dead. The actual explosion engulfed
our position. Twenty Iraqis died in the blast. The cab was
so packed with explosives that the only thing recovered was
half of the engine block!"
you ask Erik why they are over there, risking their lives
on a day-to-day basis, he may tell you about the first Iraqi
elections in January: "During the elections, it was awesome!
We bused the Iraqis that came to our base to the polls so
they could vote. From old people to young teenagers, they
were so ecstatic. They were partying, dancing, and singing."
Erik is stationed in San Diego, but he spends weekends with
his family in town here. Erik attends Calvary chapel in Redlands.
When his active duty ends May 31, he will be joining their
internship program to work with youth.
always looked up to pastors. I've always wanted to learn about
the Bible. Something about it really intrigues me. I love
what they do. That's what I ultimately want to do in life."
admits there are other things he could do..."But I don't
feel that's my calling. I could make good money; be living
'cush,' but then I wouldn't be relying on the LORD to provide
for me. I'd just be relying on my own qualifications. This
way it's one step at a time; the LORD is just teaching me
to trust Him."
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