Editor's note: The following essay, written by Isaiah Neal, received first place honors for the Osakis VFW Patriot's Pen essay contest. Students in sixth through eighth-grade were asked to write about the topic, "Why I Honor the American Flag."

"I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America..." You've heard it before, the pledge of allegiance! Yet, why do we always say it? To honor everything that it stands for and to thank all that the people behind it have done. Most people honor the flag, but why? I may not be most people, but I can tell you why I honor the American flag!

First off: The American flag has been a VERY important part of our history. In the beginning of the thirteen colonies, what represented them? The flag! Our flag showed Britain that we weren't under their rule. The flag has also represented our Continental Army and gave them hope. The flag was high in the sky when America's very own National Anthem was made.

Also: Many brave soldiers have died for the flag. These soldiers knew there was a chance of death, but they still fought for their country. These soldiers stood under our flag in battle, and helped to make sure we kept it! If these soldiers didn't exist, our flag would be no more. Everytime I look at the flag, I remember those who fought for it.

In addition: The flag shows our freedom and independence. Our flag is why we aren't part of Great Britain. Our flag is what we show to those might try and claim us. Our flag shows the people's freedom to do what they want in life. Our flag is what we believe in the American dream! Our flag shows the independence and equality for all!

My conclusion: Why do I honor the American flag? Because it played many major parts in history, because many have died for and under it, because it shows who we as Americans are! But most importantly, it's a part of our daily lives, it makes us, well, US! I honor the flag because it stand for one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all!

Isaiah Neal

Osakis, MN