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The American flag to many is a symbol of patriotism to our beloved country. The American flag to me is my grandpa, Al. My grandpa was drafted into the Vietnam war and served as a general at the age of 19. My grandpa fortunately was able to come home from this battle while his friends of war died around him. My grandpa carried the weight of murder and blood on his hands back home with him. A lot of people don’t realize the sacrifice of serving in the military does to a person. In the United States, approximately 22 veterans die every day due to them losing their battle with suicide. On top of that, veterans are 1.5 times more suicidal than non-veterans. These statistics are unacceptable. I wasn’t there for the rough times to follow but my grandma was and she has talked to me about it. His PTSD from war led to drinking, he has not drank whiskey since. Why? It only made it worse. The flashbacks, the memories, and the heartache. One story involved her waking up to him crawling on the floor, when she woke up he was alarmed and strangled her. Imagine how bad he felt and how scared she was after the fact. This is why the flag should be honored. I don’t care what else is going on in the world, who the president is, or who the flag “offends”, the flag is not for them. The flag is for the brave, the forgotten, and the honored. The flag is for the ones who lost their lives to their war. The flag is for those who survived with the burden and weight of war on their shoulders. The flag is to honor those who risked their lives for us, for me and you to walk with the things we have today in the place we walk today with the things we have today. They risked their lives yesterday so we could be here today. Next time you see a veteran shake their hand and thank them because you have what you have because of them, and their brothers and sisters of war. What does the flag mean to me? My grandpa.

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Alicia is an aspiring doctor. She intends to graduate from IUP in 2022 and attend Medical School directly after to become a medical doctor specializing in pediatrics. She enjoys watching movies, hanging with friends, and community service. She is a dog lover and has a pug names Porky that makes her smile on her worst days. Family is everything to her as you probably have read.
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