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Point: Any Day Is Flag Day
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Point: Any Day Is Flag Day

For an alternate viewpoint, see “Counterpoint: A Complex Symbol for a Diverse Nation.”

Like all other sovereign nations, the United States of America has a flag that represents what this nation believes. Sure, there are protesters in many countries, including ours, who protest the flag and what it means to them. But for most Americans, our flag — the Stars and Stripes; the Star-Spangled Banner; the Red White and Blue; and Old Glory — has powerful patriotic meanings.

I was raised in a home, in a community, and in a time in our country that respected the flag. Not only as a colorful banner representing the United States of America but also what it stood for in America and worldwide. One day, my father asked his father (my grandfather) why he would fly the flag on random days. Grandpa would quickly explain that “any day was Flag Day.”

From the beginning, June 14, 1777, (Flag Day), when our flag was adopted by the Second Continental Congress, through the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and up through the war on terrorism, our flag sent a crucial message to the enemy. “We are the United States of America, a nation of proud, free people, living in a society that respects individual liberty, don’t mess with us.”

I remember my father, mother and uncles who were part of the “Greatest Generation” in the U.S. military during World War II. Now, that group knew what the flag represented. They personally fought to preserve the rights and privileges of the country that the flag stood for. No, that respect was not about any particular battle or war, not about triumphing over domestic troubles, nor about any political persuasion or religion. That was deep-down, heartfelt respect and honor for the “country for which it stands.”

As a child, a young adult, and now a senior citizen, I still believe our flag stands for the greatest nation in the world.

The Memorial Day parade in my hometown was a big deal. Friends and neighbors would line the streets to see the bands, listen to their rousing patriotic tunes, and see so many U.S. flags parade past. Flags hung from town lampposts, from house porches, and in cemeteries.

On one of these Memorial Day events, my family would gather at the corner two blocks from our house to watch the parade as usual. My father, nearly 80 at that time, had trouble walking and standing, but he made the two-block trek to his spot on the corner and sat in the lawn chair we brought. He immediately sat.

As the parade began some blocks away, you could hear the band playing. The police cars leading the procession made sure the route was clear. Dad began to perk up as the marching honor guard rounded the corner. As the honor guard approached, my dad struggled mightily to stand, bracing himself on that flimsy lawn chair until he was standing. As the flag passed before us, he immediately saluted and then sat down.

I don’t know about you, but to me, my family, and those who observed this 80-year-old man struggling to stand up and salute the flag as it passed, that was a moving moment. The honor he showed for the flag was not about the fallen military veterans but about the flag and what it stood for.

I have my own beliefs about what our nation’s flag stands for. From a historical perspective, from 1777 through modern times, to this very moment. I understand the struggles our country has endured under that flag and why. The United States of America is my mother country. I have traveled and have worked in many countries around the world. I’ve been to some absolutely beautiful places in the far corners of the globe.

But when anyone asks, as they often have, “Of all the places you’ve visited, where would you choose to live?” And my answer continues to be, “Right here in the U.S.A.”

For all that, it offers you and me, and others who make their way from foreign lands in pursuit of the American Dream, the flag of the United States of America stands proudly over the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Author

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