One young lady by the name of Ashley Hartman brought tears to many when this was  
read and we all thank her very much for her expressing herself so beautifully.
Why I honor my American Flag

My grandfather was born to an unwed mother in a small rural town in West Virginia. Due to
her dire circumstances she gave my grandfather to the state for them to raise. He spent his
whole youth living in the state Children’s Home. The conditions in those days were very rough
for children under state care.
When my grandfather turned 18 he had a strong desire to do something great. He voluntarily
joined the United States Navy to help defend his country during the Second World War. He
was assigned to a destroyer in the Navy Fleet and his tour of duty took him all the way across
the Pacific.
Over the last few years I have attended his annual Naval Reunion with him. When I am with
my grandfather’s other shipmates I feel as though I am surrounded by heroes. I understand
now what it means to be a proud American. I understand now what it means to respect and
honor our great symbol of American freedom. I understand now more than ever the ultimate
sacrifice made by many so I can live in freedom in this great country.
When I think of the flag in my mind’s eye I can see a flag flying outside of the West Virginia
Children’s home that my grandfather saw looking out of his window every day. I can also see
the flag that was hoisted so proudly above the top of a naval destroyer as it sailed across the
Pacific Ocean as it headed to defend America. I can also see my grandfather's flag flying
outside of his home in honor of this great nation. I can also see the flag hanging on a pole
inside of the meeting room surrounded by heroes at my grandfather’s Naval Reunions.
My grandfather is now 93 years old and suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. In a coming day
his time will have passed. When it’s time to say goodbye the last thing I will see will be a flag
draped coffin, as they lay him to rest.
 Each year thereafter on Memorial Day I will see a single solemn flag which will have been
placed on his gravesite. A flag that will remind me that freedom is never free and I will forever
honor those who sacrificed so much for me.
This is why I honor the American Flag.  
 At the 2018 USS Bearss DD654 reunion we were fortunate to have 3
WWII members in attendance. The founder of our club was one of the
WWII attendees. His granddaughter was also there. She wrote what
follows, and I wanted to share with all of you.