As a 90-year-old World War II veteran, having served 30 months in the Pacific aboard the USS Izard DD 589, I am offended by the controversy caused by three South Portland High School students concerning the Pledge of Allegiance.

It’s ironic that it arose around the same time as the 70th anniversary of the famous raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, the next-to-last major battle of World War II. I witnessed the flag flying over Mount Suribachi immediately after it was raised. Wow! For a 20-year-old kid, it was something to see.

That battle cost us the lives of 6,821 Marines and sailors. From the book “Iwo Jima: Legacy of Valor,” by Bill D. Ross, I quote: “But the fact remains; Iwo Jima was a landmark of mass courage and individual valor. It was a battle the likes of which mankind most probably will not witness again.”

My father, sister and many extended family members also proudly served during World War II. Those who question the Pledge of Allegiance offend most veterans, I believe.

We are privileged to live in the greatest free country in the world. Yes, we can disagree, but our country was founded by immigrants from all over, and because of their bravery and patriotism from generation to generation, we are able to have and pledge our allegiance to the United States of America.

W.O. “Bill” Gardner