We’re all in this together as Americans

By CHRIS GEORGE / Guest Columnist

The Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape course was likely the most difficult course I attended while I served in the Marine Corps.

The course is exactly what the name implies. You must survive with only the food you can find in the wild, you must evade capture, resist the torture and try with every means possible to escape. It is designed to prepare those who may find themselves behind enemy lines during combat. I am glad I went, but I have no desire to do it again… at least the SERE part.

I do recall the day I heard the most beautiful version of the National Anthem being played. Our clothes were tattered, we were bruised, and the feeling of hunger was replaced with a bone-chilling cold. They took us to the base of the flag pole, which for the entire course, displayed a flag of another region that I did not recognize. The commanding officer pulled an American flag from a bag and pulled his knife from his sheath. He began to tell us what we had heard all week.

We had learned to block that part out. However, things changed when he took his knife and cut the first star out of the blue union.

He cursed us and asked, “Which individual state was that.” The boy beside me (and yes, we were just boys) said, “That one was Texas”. I’m not sure if the commanding officer heard him, but he cut out another star and asked which state that was. I perked up and said, “That was Alabama.”

Much of SERE school is a blur, but when he yelled for us to get on our feet, they began to play our National Anthem. As the song played, they raised the brightest, most pressed American Flag I had ever seen or have ever seen since.

We saluted proudly, and even though we were broken mentally, we stood tall.

Our flag entitles you to nothing more than what you desire to do with the freedoms it guarantees and the blue union reminds us that we’re all in this together.

During these months, display a flag on the front of your house, celebrate our nation’s freedoms and find one of the Greatest Generation’s veterans that we’re losing every day — and don’t just shake his hand, hug his neck. He’s entitled to that.

Chris George is the commander of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division.