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Flag Day is June 14. And what is its significance? It is not even a day off from work. Is it more than a yawn? Special thanks go out to our local Habitat for Humanity, which honors Flag Day and other patriotic holidays by placing a flag in front of homes where residents have made a donation to their worthy cause.

I remember as a child being almost moved to tears when I would watch the flag pass by at a parade and especially when I heard or sang our national anthem. Every school morning began with “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all  ...”

I think back to what might be considered our first big challenge when we almost lost our freedoms and the flag —the War of 1812. In just 30 years after we gained our independence, we were fighting Great Britain again. The British were routinely stopping and boarding our ships that sailed the high seas, and impressing American sailors into British service.

At first, the war outcome seemed bleak. The British marched up the east coast destroying city after city and actually burned the White House. Next the British armada came into the Chesapeake Bay to attack the port of Baltimore and was greeted by a gigantic American flag flying over Ft McHenry.

General Armistead, the Fort Commander, asked for a flag so big “the British would have no trouble seeing it from a distance.” Incensed by the soaring flag, the admiral ordered General Armistead to take the flag down and gave him to dusk to comply with the order.

Unfortunately a local town physician had been captured and was being held on a prison ship. Prior to the attack, the people of Baltimore asked a young attorney to help obtain Dr. Beanes’s release. The attorney, Mr. Key, along with an agent for prisoner exchange, successfully negotiated his release on the condition that they could not sail back to Baltimore until the battle was over.

Key overheard the admiral’s perilous order to take down that huge flag and grieved for the coming devastation that the fort was sure to face. Dusk came, and the magnificent flag remained flying over Ft. McHenry. Rockets and shells began to batter the fort. As many as 1,800 bombs were fired.

When dawn arrived, Key, also an amateur poet, witnessed the most beautiful sight his eyes could behold — the torn and tattered flag was still flying. At the base of the flag there lay scores of bodies of soldiers who took turns keeping the flag up because they believed in what it symbolized.

The gifted poet immortalized those soldiers’ convictions when he penned these words and asked: “Does that star-spangled banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

I think about the countless men and women who fight and have fought for our flag and the values it symbolizes. They believed and still believe in liberty and justice for ALL no matter what one’s political convictions might be.

I am worried that the current administration is slowly accomplishing what no enemy has been able to achieve. This administration is working to silence anyone whose political convictions differ from theirs by using the muscle of the IRS to snuff out any opposition. Silencing any of the “loyal opposition” is a crucial loss of freedom for Americans.

We understand that the IRS has ultimate control over taxation. Many of us thought it was without question an apolitical organization. We have recently learned that the IRS has been targeting, investigating, and delaying tax-exempt status to groups that have conservative (traditional) leanings. These actions demonstrate that the IRS also has the power to destroy all political opponents of the administration.

Since the Supreme Court has declared that Obamacare is a tax, the IRS will be administering it as well. What is to keep it from likewise withholding needed medical care and funds to all conservatives or anyone else whose political views disagrees from those of the current administration? Peggy Noonan wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “That is the kind of thing that can kill a country, letting half its citizens believe that they no longer have full political rights.”

I am not a vexillologist, a person who likes to study flags. There is only one flag that is important to me, the one that symbolizes one nation under God — indivisible with liberty and justice for all. I have no doubt that the flag will continue to fly over the “Home of the Brave,” but I cannot affirm with the same certainty that it will be flying over the “Land of the Free” where there is freedom and justice for all.

WILLEE COOPER is a former teacher and military spouse. A Hopkinsville resident, she is past president of the Kentucky Federation of Republican Women. Her column runs on the first and third Friday of each month. Reach her at willeecooper@gmail.com.

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