I had never known what it truly meant to be taken aback by a symbol until recently. Growing up the flag salute was always a chore, a daily occurrence, that began the school day. Then it became the beginning of sporting events… For me it had never truly broken through that the flag was more than a morning ritual, a start to learning, and end to fun. I have always been desensitized to the deaths of those in our military, they appear as numbers on the news and sad pictures on the internet, the commercial you hate to watch for the feelings they bring or the story of so and so’s far off nephew.
Recently I was asked to take pictures of the Veteran’s Day flag raising ceremony by the ROTC on campus for the school newspaper. I had forgotten my obligation until 45 minutes before the flag was supposed to be raised. After rushing through a hasty breakfast of eggs and toast I quickly made my way to campus with camera in hand. On the rush there, I had no idea that my perspective would change… Arriving late, as always, I came upon a small group of people surrounding two groups of ROTC students dressed in full uniform and the color guard unfolding the flag they were raising. What hit me was the atmosphere, it was as if I walked into something tangible. It was as if a wave of understanding hit me. Although it was in the morning, this wasn’t merely a beginning of the day occurrence; this was a symbol. The flag represented the soldiers who have fought, died, and represented our country. I now understand.
On this Veteran’s Day I realize that this day is more than just another Columbus day. Happy Veteran’s Day, and thanks to all those Veterans.