WASHINGTON -- Just about everyone in America knows that Sunday, June 15, is Father's Day. The day for dads has been celebrated on the third Sunday of June since 1966, when President Lyndon Johnson decreed it to be so. Those who make and sell power tools and greeting cards have been grateful ever since. Somehow, it just isn't the same for June 14, which is Flag Day and, by no coincidence, the U.S. Army's anniversary.
Father's Day traditionally is memorialized with gifts, cards and calls for dear old dad. Flag Day is all but forgotten. But this year, with the holidays as close as they ever get, there is good reason to celebrate both. As you read this column, tens of thousands of American dads are wearing our country's flag on their shoulders, helmets or flak jackets while serving far from home under some of the most difficult and dangerous conditions imaginable.
Scores of books have been written about the diminished respect accorded to American fathers in our culture. Dads are derided and denigrated in everything from cartoons to commercials. For decades, our entertainment industry and mainstream media have been depicting dads as everything from bumbling buffoons to pathological predators. The dads of "Little House on the Prairie" and "Bonanza" all have passed from the scene. And just like those iconic, heroic dads of yesteryear, waving the flag has gone out of style.
Oh, sure, there was that brief flurry of flag-waving in the aftermath of 9/11. We still can find on the Internet images of soot-covered firemen hanging the Stars and Stripes at the shattered wreckage of the World Trade Center or on the fire-scorched west wall of the Pentagon. And some of us still can recall commuting to work beneath bridges and overpasses on which patriots had draped Old Glory in defiance toward those who brought terror to our shores. But like good fathers, that too has passed. We even have a candidate for president who is acclaimed for refusing to wear an American flag on his lapel.
It sometimes seems as though the only place where you can see our flag and a good strong dad together is on -- and in -- a uniform. Rest assured, neither will get the respect or admiration they deserve from Hollywood or the so-called mainstream media.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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