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The Stars and Stripes Forever

 

As the dinner began, an honor guard carried in the flag of each branch of the armed forces as the Marine Band played each branch’s song.  After all five service flags were in place, the band struck up John Phillip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” as a very special American flag was brought in.  President Nixon described the scene in his memoirs:
In place of the full-size American flag, there came a tiny flag held aloft on a short staff.  It was the flag that had been secretly made by Air Force Lieutenant Colonel John Dramesi in a North Vietnamese prison, fashioned from a white handkerchief, patches of red underwear, gold trim from a blanket, blue cloth from an old jacket, and string from a Red Cross package.  As the honor guard entered, all eyes turned toward the tiny patchwork flag, and beginning with the front tables, a cheer grew and grew until it filled the canvas tent.


The “Dramesi” flag, which was presented at the POW dinner by Honor Guard.


The “Dramesi” flag, which was presented at the POW dinner.  The day after the dinner, Captain Dramesi visited the Oval Office to personally present the flag to the President.
Composer Irving Berlin gave President Nixon this sheet of “God Bless America” during the dinner honoring the POWs.  During the dinner, Mr. Berlin sang the song for those in attendance.

Major Paul J. and Shirley Montague, signed “Anytime.” The photograph was presented to President Nixon at the White House dinner for the returning Vietnam prisoners of war, May 24, 1973.
TAVD.1973.30

 

For more information, contact us at 714-983-9120 or Nixon@nara.gov.

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