Pearl Harbor veteran shares Flag Day pride with family - FOX Carolina 21

Pearl Harbor veteran shares Flag Day pride with family

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A photo of Craig Kirkpatrick Sr. from his early days in the service. (Source: Craig Kirkpatrick Sr.) A photo of Craig Kirkpatrick Sr. from his early days in the service. (Source: Craig Kirkpatrick Sr.)

For nearly 65 years, Americans across the country have officially celebrated the adoption of the red, white and blue as our nation's emblem with Flag Day.

In some places, people have celebrated the stars and stripes for far more than 100 years. The colors waving high mean so much, to so many, including the Kirkpatricks in Hendersonville.

When people think of the American flag, they may automatically think, military. But even this family, with three generations who have served, and are serving, said it's way more than that.

Though he's since lost use of his eyes, one story in particular rolled off the tongue for veteran, Craig Kirkpatrick Sr.

The former sailor was 21 as he worked a cargo ship in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

He explained how his quarter master ran down to the mess room where he and others were eating breakfast and said, "Air raid! Air raid! And this is no drill!"

Kirkpatrick said he ran to the deck to see a plane flying overhead, with the red dot, indicating a Japanese fighter plane.

The now 94-year-old grew up in western North Carolina and said, at 18, the radio brought him the excitement of a military career. He joined the next year, 1938.

"I had been land bound in Madison County [North Carolina] all my life. I thought there was something outside of Madison County," said Kirkpatrick.

After eight years in the Navy and 12 more transporting supplies and men with the Coast Guard, though he can no longer see the stars and stripes, because he lost his vision in the 1980s, Kirkpatrick said the flag became a part of him.

As he moved his family from base to base, the red white and blue also became a part of his son, Craig Kirkpatrick Jr., who served 26 years in the Air Force.

"The Vietnam War was coming ... I didn't think of doing anything else other than serving in the military. I didn't know how long I was going to serve in the military, but I knew that I was kind of honor bound by the inspiration by my dad to serve honorably," said Craig Kirkpatrick.

Three of Craig Kirkpatrick's sons served, and are serving now, too.

"A lot of people look at the flag and say, 'Hey, there are all kinds of problems with that flag, all kinds of problems with the country that it represents', but I wouldn't want to live anywhere else," said Craig Kirkpatrick.

The Kirkpatricks said they're proud to have helped in defending the flag, which represents the rights of Americans to express their opinions and push for change.

While the Kirkpatricks have very personal feelings toward the military, Craig Kirkpatrick said it's the government, economy, natural resources and spiritual will of everyone in this country that makes it and its flag so great.

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