"Honoring the American Flag" - A Condensed speech by Leo K. Thorsness

  1. This is part of a speech that was given by now Gen. Leo K. Thorsness:


    Honoring the American Flag

    Condensed from a speech by Leo K. Thorsness,
    recipient of The Congressional Medal of Honor.



    You've probably seen the bumper sticker somewhere along the road.
    It depicts an American Flag, accompanied by the words
    "These colors don't run."
    I'm always glad to see this, because it reminds me of an incident
    from my confinement in North Vietnam at the Hao Lo POW Camp,
    or the "Hanoi Hilton," as it became known.
    Then a Major in the U.S. Air Force, I had been captured and imprisoned from 1967-1973.
    Our treatment had been frequently brutal. After three years, however,
    the beatings and torture became less frequent.
    During the last year, we were allowed outside most days for a couple of minutes to bathe.
    We showered by drawing water from a concrete tank with a homemade bucket.
    One day as we all stood by the tank, stripped of our clothes, a young Naval pilot named
    Mike Christian found the remnants of a handkerchief in a gutter that ran under the prison wall.
    Mike managed to sneak the grimy rag into our cell and began fashioning it into a flag.



    Over time we all loaned him a little soap, and he spent days cleaning the material.
    We helped by scrounging and stealing bits and pieces of anything he could use.
    At night, under his mosquito net, Mike worked on the flag.
    He made red and blue from ground-up roof tiles and tiny
    amounts of ink and painted the colors onto the cloth with watery rice glue.
    Using thread from his own blanket and a homemade bamboo needle,
    he sewed on the stars.


    Early in the morning a few days later, when the guards were not alert,
    he whispered loudly from the back of our cell, "Hey gang, look here.
    " He proudly held up this tattered piece of cloth, waving it as if in a breeze.
    If you used your imagination, you could tell it was supposed to be an American flag.
    When he raised that smudgy fabric, we automatically stood straight and saluted,
    our chests puffing out, and more than a few eyes had tears.



    About once a week the guards would strip us, run us outside and go through our clothing.
    During one of those shakedowns, they found Mike's flag. We all knew what would happen.
    That night they came for him. Night interrogations were always the worst.
    They opened the cell door and pulled Mike out. We could hear the beginning of the
    torture before they even had him in the torture cell. They beat him most of the night.



    About daylight they pushed what was left of him back through the cell door.
    He was badly broken; even his voice was gone. Within two weeks, despite the danger,
    Mike scrounged another piece of cloth and began another flag.
    The Stars and Stripes, our national symbol, was worth the sacrifice to him.



    Now whenever I see the flag,
    I think of Mike and the morning he first waved that tattered emblem of a nation.
    It was then, thousands of miles from home in a lonely prison cell,
    that he showed us what it is to be truly free.

    ---------------------------------------------

    This is what the American Military is fighting for...alleged abuses and all. I happen to know Gen Thorsness, I actually get to cal him Leo. He is my first cousin. You want a story of Valor and honor of the military man, read his story. You can google his name and find out about him.

    Dave
    Last edit by Ted on Feb 16, '04
    •  
  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   jnette
    Thank you Dplear... I had read that before somewhere as well.

    Very touching, to be sure.

    I just hope you don't bundle all those who don't necessarily agree with THIS war together in the box of "anti military".

    While I have serious doubts about this war, as well as the Viet Nam war, I am far from "anti military" (actually served during the Viet Nam Era)... and love our flag and country every bit as much as the next person.

    While not a "flagwaver", my appreciation for it and what it stands for is strong and real... I love my country. I may not always agree with what we DO, but I would stand and fight today for our flag and for our freedom.
  4. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Quote from jnette
    Thank you Dplear... I had read that before somewhere as well.

    Very touching, to be sure.

    I just hope you don't bundle all those who don't necessarily agree with THIS war together in the box of "anti military".

    While I have serious doubts about this war, as well as the Viet Nam war, I am far from "anti military" (actually served during the Viet Nam Era)... and love our flag and country every bit as much as the next person.

    While not a "flagwaver", my appreciation for it and what it stands for is strong and real... I love my country. I may not always agree with what we DO, but I would stand and fight today for our flag and for our freedom.
    thank you. I am a troop supporter, but not a supporter of this particular war/occupation. And troops should be held stictly accountable for their mideeds anywhere. Does not make me anti-military to be FOR the troops but ANTI-IRAQUI WAR. Nice post, however Dave.
  5. by   pickledpepperRN
    I choke up during the National Anthem when the words "Land of the FREE" are sung.

    Our flag symbolizes an ideal we strive to achieve.
  6. by   beckymcrn
    Thank you for the post. It should be a wake up call to any and all who repeatedly bash our troops.
    My daughter and son-in-law are in the army last week they heard one of their friends a 20 something year old young man lost his life in Iraq. Believe me they do not want to be there as much as we do not want them there but they are doing their JOB. To protect freedom, and the rights of all wether you agree with the cause or not. They are fighting for YOU!
  7. by   Dplear
    No, jnette this is not directed at you or 99.9% of the members here. I am aiming it more at one person who I will be nice and not say thier name here. That person I am sure will figure it out. I also agree with you, being anti war or anti Bush is not the same as anti military. Those soldiers are over there defending your right to say what you believe in...even the person's that is anti military. Many of us have served proudly in the military and would go and serve again if called on to do it...even up to and including losing our lives if so called on to do so in support of our fellow human being....

    Dave
    Last edit by Dplear on Feb 15, '04
  8. by   Soonstudent
    Quote from Dplear
    Many of us have served proudly in the military and would go and serve again if called on to do it...even up to and including losing our lives if so called on to do so in support of our fellow human being....

    Dave
    Great post Dave. You've said it all in that last sentence. Even if we don't agree with that fellow human being.
  9. by   SickleMoon
    Quote from Dplear
    ...being anti war or anti Bush is not the same as anti military. Those soldiers are over there defending your right to say what you believe in...even the person's that is anti military. Many of us have served proudly in the military and would go and serve again if called on to do it...even up to and including losing our lives if so called on to do so in support of our fellow human being....

    Dave
    Voltaire put it very nicely:

    "I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

    Right on, Dave!

    From an old Cold Warrior
  10. by   Gomer
    Could you define what you consider to be "overly anti Military"?
  11. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Never heard the term "overly" anti-military before.
  12. by   nekhismom
    As usual, Deb and jnette took the words right out of my mouth!
  13. by   Ted
    this thread is being returned to the forum after a discussion by the moderators/administators. it was felt that the story provided by "dplear" was worth sharing, as intended, to the public. indeed, the story is moving.

    changes were made to this thread. posts were edited out and even the title changed. why? because both the posts and the original title of this thread demonstrated disrespect from one bulletin board member to another.

    personal attacks will not be tolerated on this bulletin board.


    ted
  14. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Dang, Ted, when are you finding time to work j/k

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