MY WIFE bought a new American flag. It looks so sharp flying above the front porch, sandwiched between the dogwood and red maple, with a giant evergreen in the background.

Our old flag had seen better days, flip-flopping in the wind and becoming torn, tattered and tangled on the porch pole.

This new flag means more to me than a new car because of what it represents.

You can't buy courage and bravery, hope and purity, reverence to God, loyalty, justice, power and ambition. And these are the symbols of the Stars and Stripes.

Every now and then, just before I leave for work, I pause for a moment to reflect on the significance of "Our Flag."

Many lives have been lost to make sure Old Glory still flew. When members of the armed forces lose their lives, they come home in caskets draped with flags.

When I get home from work and pull into the driveway (whether during a winter wonderland or the blossoming springtime), the flag always steals the show.

Perhaps it's the colors, the design, or the movement when the wind blows.

Or could it be that Our Flag is as much of part of me as eating, drinking and sleeping?

When I was a youngster during the 1940s, practically every house on our block flew the flag because it represented patriotism.

After the war, my father kept the flag display alive by placing a small flag in a flower pot outside our rowhome and made sure it was taken care of with tender loving care.

And for the last 40 years, Old Glory has been flying high from our front porch because it's a memorial to our American way of life and a tribute to those who served in the armed forces and gave their lives in defense of freedom at home and abroad.

While Our Flag practically flies everywhere throughout America, may it always be a sense of inspiration, hope and freedom in a troubled world.

Doug Leaman, Oaks