Suria David has no patience with flag burners. To her, the American flag will ever hold a dear place in her heart. If it were not for that flag she would not be alive today. Suria is 84 years old and America is her adopted country. She and her husband raised six sons and one daughter, five of the sons serving in the Armed Forces, three during World War II, one during the Korean Conflict and one during the Viet Nam conflict. Her husband George David (now deceased) was a veteran of World War I and served overseas for two years.
In the David household patriotism for America was an ideal fostered and nourished by Suria and George. Their children were taught to ever appreciate the value of citizenship in what the Davids considered the greatest nation on the face of the earth. Suria's love and respect for the American flag had its beginning in a little, dusty corner of the world far removed from the shores of America in the northwest corner of Persia, just a few miles away from the border of Russia. The year was 1914. Suria was eight years old living in the village of Gulpashan with her grandparents. The village of Gulpashan was a refuge for the few Christians who lived among the Mohammedans who comprised over 95% of the population of Persia. The Mohammedans hated the Christians who lived in their midst and determined to take the sternest measures in driving them out of the land.
It was early Monday morning when representatives of the local Mullah appeared at the village gates to collect taxes. When all the men including Suria's grandfather gathered in the village square to pay their taxes the Christians were separated then grabbed roughly by the Mullah soldiers and dragged to the nearby cemetery where they were shot to death. Word of the atrocity quickly spread through the village. Suria's grandmother, fearing the worse, commanded Suria and another young member of the family to immediately flee to the roof of the house, pull up the trap door and stay there till it was safe to leave. "I'm too old" Suria's grandmother told them. "They won't hurt me. Don't come down until I tell you. Whatever you do, don't make a sound!" At various times throughout the night the Mohammedan thugs would return to the house looking for the girls. In their anger and frustration they destroyed everything of value in the downstairs apartment leaving the house in shambles. The two frightened girls laid motionless on the roof all night not daring to make a sound. As morning came news broke that Doctor Miller, a Presbyterian missionary, was in the village square looking for Suria's family and other Christian women and girls of the village to escort them to a safe refuge in the town of Urmia, a short distance away. Doctor Miller, astride a horse and holding a large American flag in his hand, commanded the women to walk closely behind him.
It wasn't long before the thugs were informed of the women's escape and rushed to head them off before they arrived at the Presbyterian mission in Urmia. Dr. Miller, seeing the approach of the thugs, dismounted and yelled to the women and the girls to gather to him and link their arms to his arms. With the American flag wrapped around his body Dr. Miller faced the thugs bravely and told them: "In order to harm these women and girls you must first kill me, but remember, if you do harm to me, you will also be desecrating the flag of The United States of America." In those days the American flag carried with it an authority that few cared to challenge. The thugs let them pass and Suria and others then made their way to the mission and remained there until it was safe to leave.
This then is the memory that a frightened eight-year-old carried with her throughout her lifetime. Suria David still possesses an undiminished love for her country and it's flag. Though she is far removed from the scenes of her childhood, she will never forget the day her life was saved by a brave man holding high the flag of the United States of America.