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COLUMN: Wartime keepsake offers lessons about flag, patriotism and values

On my mantle sits a glassed case holding a flag last touched by a gloved soldier and a grieving mother.

A flag that was folded carefully and respectfully, honoring the life of a young paratrooper that was killed in action in Normandy, France June 28, 1944. That life belonged to a great uncle that died three decades before I was born—and who lived only half the years I have. I was honored when my grandmother gave me the funeral flag and some of the personal effects of her younger brother.

While studying World War II history with my son for school, I took the opportunity to explain about the flag over our mantel and the soldier who had lain under it. I pulled out a small brown box from the War Department addressed to my great-grandparents, and gently laid its contents . . .