I wrote an article critical of the football kneelers. I got pummeled by one reader I do not know, implying I am radical giving too much importance to a piece of cloth.

Let me paint a picture for people who believe Old Glory is unimportant.

Mid-Atlantic, age 17, heavy seas, on my way to Europe, a convoy of many ships. Why am I there?

Some lunatics had attacked Pearl Harbor.

England, the last bastion against a crazy man, was being attacked in London by buzz-bombs and bombers, crossing the English Channel preparing for an invasion. Winston Churchill called President Roosevelt for help.

With many of our ancestors being English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish we came alive to supply the English.

If England fell, we would be next.

My only brother was a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division deployed to Europe. A year later he was killed at the Battle of the Bulge. He was 20 years old.

16 million men/boys were on their way somewhere because the world was in danger from two fanatical ideologies

I was dreaming about my beagle on the farm. The klaxon above my bunk blasted me awake. 

“All hands to duty stations! We are under attack!”

My station was strapped into a 20-millimeter gun mount.

The only time I had shot 20 millimeters was at a target being towed by a small airplane in boot camp.

I quickly realized why I was there. I wished I was back on the farm milk-ing Betsy. 

Destroyers raced through the con-voy with horns blaring, throwing depth charges causing giant geysers hoping to hit enemy submarines below. We did not know how many.

A Liberty ship ferrying ammuni-tion exploded in a giant fireball off our port bow. The Wolf Pack had stuck. No crewmen would survive the explosion.

A cargo ship was torpedoed and began to burn, its crew lowering life-boats from davits and jumping over-board.

I felt sorry for the Merchant Ma-rine crew on the cargo ship that was sinking. A convoy cannot stop to pick up survivors. Ships dead in the water would become easier targets. There were sharks in the water. Tears flood-ed easily.

Over 1500 Merchant Marine trans-ports were sunk by Nazi submarines in the Atlantic during WWII.

A submarine surfaced and was quickly rammed by an alert destroyer. The U-Boat split apart and sank. The Germans should have shot Hitler a long time ago. 

The attack was over, crewmen shaken. Even officers were ashen. We saw the stricken cargo ship sinking be-low the waves. The last thing we saw was our flag fluttering on her main-mast. We stared at the Ensign on near-by vessels and understood what the Stars and Stripes mean to real heroes. We continued to the Mediterranean. The Atlantic calmed. I had become much older.

~ Bill York, Lawrenceville

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