We Stand For Our Banner

In 1814 at Fort McHenry, American men fought the second time against the British to maintain their freedom. Fort McHenry was under siege with enormous fire power of the British Navy and well trained British Army. The British had invaded America and were bearing down on the strategically located fort so they could establish an even stronger foothold in America. It looked as if Fort McHenry would not stand by morning. After a hard battle all night long many men had died. In the morning hours, a man named Francis Scott Key looked to the fort and expected a British Flag to be flying over it. Instead, he noticed through the smoky horizon that the United States Flag was still flying high. The defense of the fort held and the British was forced to withdraw.

Overcome with emotion and joy seeing the flag still flying, he wrote the poem “Star Spangled Banner”. In 1854 the Star Spangled Banner was played as a song and inspired the nation. Unfortunately, close to seven years later in 1881 the United States broke out in civil war. Almost 600,000 men from the North that were long time residents and also recent immigrants from many nations were killed, injured, or captured in an effort to fight and preserve the United States. Even my own ancestral family got off the boat from Ireland and immediately joined the Union. The United States won the war and was able to preserve the country and end the institution of slavery.

The country continued to grow and mature. Maturity came through many trials and learning experiences. There were hard issues and efforts to implement change for America. The Equal Rights movement which created equality for woman and their right to vote was significant for America. The Civil Rights movement in the 1960s resulting in African American rights and rights to vote was very significant to America to continue to mature as a nation. These were hard battles of change. Beyond the millions of men and women of all religions, races and nationalities that have fought under the Star Spangled Banner, there are still equal and civil rights struggles this nation works to overcome. Throughout the years of this young nation, all freedom, equality and civil rights efforts stood under the United States Flag. My own Grandpa fought in the Philippine Islands on Corregidor in the early months of World War II and saw the United States Flag lowered and desecrated and replaced with a Japanese Flag. The very feeling of the flag not flying and replaced by another nation devastated him and the few thousand American and Pilipino men that were captured that day.

All hero’s, activists, and many others stood and even died under the Star Spangled Banner. That Banner, The United States Flag, represents a nation that men and women from all races, all interests, all religions, and from all corners of the world, dreamed life could positively change for them. I have not seen any of the prominent men nor woman that has protested and have fought for their rights and freedoms use the Star Spangled Banner as a protest platform. Instead, they have stood under the flag as a proud member of a strong nation and a flag that has represented their cause and freedoms. The Banner is consecrated. Despite those that have had different interests, the United States Flag, that Star Spangled Banner, has been and still is our only foundation that has stood the test of time for positive changes for America. For that reason, in honor of those that stood before us and for what it represents, and those who will stand now and in the future, during our National Anthem, WE STAND.

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From Tropical Forest to Scorched Earth

Meanwhile, on the Rock the Marines worked and sweated. Bill McCormack was one of them. Gradually they grew lean, hard, sun bronzed and tense working under the tropical sun.  The lines of tension under their eyes were etched deep from sleepless nights and hours of strain.  They seemed to take on the look of the island about them and the lush, fulsome loveliness of Corregidor was slowly dying. Heavy tropic verdure was burned away, great tress were splintered and scorched, and the earth showed the raw pockmarks from thousands of bombs which had chewed craters of all sizes on the island.

A TRIBUTE TO THE CHINA MARINES

The sun peaks up with the morning mist clinging to the grass. With solemn steps and the National Ensign held proudly in his arms, former Marine Staff Sergeant Bill McCormack, wearing the dress blue uniform moves toward the flag pole in front of his house. With majestic protocol, colors are set and raised to the top of the mast. Another day has begun in Ingleside, Texas.

He looks a bit old and maybe the uniform isn’t as sharp as it once was, but the man wearing the uniform is just as proud as the day he graduated form recruit training. He also maybe a little bit proud of something else, having been awarded an unprecedented four silver stars within a 30 day period while serving Corregidor in 1942. (Located in the Philippines).

“Corregidor looks like a tadpole. I was on the tail of it. My platoon did pretty good. And I’ll tell you something, it was the closes thing to hell that I know of, without going there.” And as the gentlemen is relating his experiences, his voice gets a little rough and his eyes have a gleam that is unexpected in someone who has been out of the Marine Corps since 1946.

“The longest period I was in the hospital was 24 hours. I got 83 stitches for that, a bullet hit my helmet and went around my head under my skin, it scalped me. They could feel it and the corpsman cut a hole near my left temple, squeezed and it popped out. That’s when they sewed me up. The next day I earned another silver star.”

With quiet dignity, Mr. McCormack kneels in front of the flagpole and points to a stone marble monument. The monument is for the “China Marines.”

“As far as I know,” quietly relates to Mr. McCormack, “This is the only monument for those Marines.” With a finger faded with age, but with amazing steadiness he points out to two rose bushes, one on the right and one on the left of the marble stone.

“These roses represent something too; the white one on the right stands for those Marines who died, and the red one on the left stands for the living.” And then Mr. McCormack is standing upright again. He points to an evergreen located behind the stone but in front of the flagpole. “That is the tree of life,” he explained. “It will always be green and will stand as a symbol of eternity. This is my tribute, it means a lot to me. I may not have much, but I did the best I could with what I had. Just like on Corregidor. This stands as a tribute to those who have been, and those who will be. What I’ve done I’ve done for the good of America. I didn’t fight for you or for her (his wife), I fought for America.”

“We in the Marines are the greatest there ever was, and if someone doubts that, let them read the history books,” he spoke loudly. And then quietly he resumes again, “I limp a lot, but when I put on that uniform and you see me limp, you better catch me because I’m on my way down. When I put on that uniform, there’s no one any prouder.” On that uniform I saw, four Silver Star medals, 2 Legions of Merit, a Bronze Star, 11 purple hearts and more.

When I walked away, many hours later, I knew that the marble stone in the front lawn of Bill McCormack’s home may be a tribute to those “China Marines,” but Bill McCormack, the man, is a tribute to America.

China Marines monument

Four Silver Stars

This is a book I am writing about my Grandpa, Staff Sergeant William N. McCormack, USMC. Publishers want to know if this is worth publishing and if I can market this book. If you are interested in reading about a highly decorated War World II hero from Ingleside Texas that did some amazing heroic acts in the Philippines, in addition to his challenges as a prisoner of war, please let me know. Information about William McCormack and the first few draft pages of my book can be found at http://www.teammccormack.com. Feel free to read about what the media has stated about him and click on the tab “My Book”. Let me know and share your thoughts including any additional things you would be curious about that I can potentially write about in the book. Above all, please share with your friends and colleagues. I would respectfully and greatly appreciate you, your friends, and your colleagues feedback on this. Above all, if you, your parent or grandparent fought in the Philippines and was in the Bataan Death March, I would love to hear the stories you have or personally heard.

Grandpa was a Marine that fought in the Philippines during the early stages of World War II. The Japanese attacked the Philippine Islands just after they attacked Pearl Harbor. These fighting men were there to defend the islands while the American Pacific fleet laid crippled in Pear Harbor. Men fought for their lives and those that lived were left in Japanese prison camps to work and survive for the duration of the war. What is unique about my Grandpa is that he was awarded four Silver Stars within a 31 day period in which no man or woman has done before.

As the oldest grandson, my grandpa shared many stories of his fighting during World War II. The last stories was told when I was 19 years old just before he died. Now that I am in my late 40s, I now have the time to write about him and share his story with the rest of the world. I am not looking to profit or draw attention to myself through my grandpas efforts, I’m only doing this to simply share the amazing service he did for our country.