Uncle Sam was the guy who pointed his finger at you on posters and said "Uncle Sam Wants You!" That was at the beginning and during WWII and I was a very small child. The sign meant this country needed it's able bodied men to sign up to go and fight the war -- and many did because patriotism ran very high in this country at that time. Those who went to war and didn't return were honored by another "sign" -- a single gold star that was hung in the window of a family's home when their loved one was killed in battle. Those two signs remain etched in my memory from childhood and will always represent the United States of America to me. WWII did end -- finally -- and I grew up and witnessed other wars and somewhere in the back of my mind there was always Uncle Sam and the gold stars -- and both of them stood for freedom hard won for a beloved country and faith in this country's system of government. I wish I could relate Uncle Sam and the gold stars to what's happening in this country today as everything has changed and much has been lost in the process. Today I envision Uncle Sam as a tired, worn out, old man trudging up a high hill with a sack full of gold stars on his back in honor of all those who died for an ideal -- The United States of America -- because he needed them and they willingly served and died for the dream of freedom. Now, he's nearly on his knees and if nothing changes in this country he will die of a broken heart.