From the National Office of the Veterans of Foreign Wars
June 17, 2021
Submitted by Wahkiakum VFW Post 5297
When we talk about the American flag --our flag --we are not just talking about a piece of red, white, and blue cloth. We are talking about our country. We are talking about you and me and our parents and our friends. We are talking about every American across this great nation we call home.
When we talk about Old Glory, we are talking about our hopes and dreams, and each plan for the future. And we are talking about our form of government; a government that even despite its own faults and shortcomings gives us more freedom than any other type of government in the world. It is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. It is a government that you and I can take part in. We can vote in elections, and we can even run for president of this country if we want to.
When we talk about our flag, we are talking about freedom. And it is not just the freedom we have today or the freedom that we will have the rest of our lives; we are talking about the freedom that millions of American men and women have fought to defend since our country was founded back in 1776.
Shackled under the British monarchy, America was not a free country and our founders had to fight for their freedom. Our revolution took almost eight years, thousands died, and others came home wounded. But when the dust from the Revolutionary War settled, a new nation was born, a free nation, and we have remained free for nearly 245 years.
Think about that for a moment. For nearly 245 years we have been a free country and a free people, and the reason why we have remained free for so long is that millions of American men and women have fought to defend and protect that liberty. In war after war, conflict after conflict, they have held the line against those who would threaten our democracy and take our freedom from us.
Our flag is special because not only because it represents our freedom, but because it stands for every single brave and selfless service member who has worn our nation’s military uniform in protection and defense of the American dream.
Of all the special occasions we celebrate each year, Flag Day, June 14, stands out among the most important. Today, we are not just honoring a flag, its dyed fabric and thread. Instead, we are pausing to honor everything the iconic symbol represents--our country, its principles, and our American way of life.
The American flag has heard the battle cry of every American conflict. It has ushered the brave men and women of our armed forces into treacherous and unknown lands, and for those who pay the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation – it solemnly escorts them home.
A silent sentinel of freedom, strength and peace, the American flag represents the heart and soul of our great country. It speaks in echoes of our nation’s past – of the founders of this country making their defiant statement in 1776. George Washington was among the first to interpret its symbols, stating: “We take the stars from heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing our liberty.”
To the members of the armed forces, our flag is a constant reminder – red symbolizing the blood shed from patriots who fought to ensure our country’s freedom, blue for the beating and bruising we endured to attain peace, and the white signifying the integrity with which our men and women serve and the purity of their mission.
Our beloved flag carries the sounds of battle, loyalty, courage, patriotism, sacrifice, and victory. It carries the sounds of freedom – and the solemn sound of a bugle blowing taps for all who have paid the highest price for that freedom.
The American flag, whose broad stripes and bright stars represent our founding declarations and the nation based on them, and it remains the pinnacle of American idealism and the beacon of enduring hope for the world.
From time to time throughout our history, men and women have been called to defend this country, and the VFW has 1 million such people in its ranks. For them, this day holds a special meaning. But you do not have to fight a war to protect America or be a veteran to appreciate America, you just have to have the interest in America that each of you have shown every day.
By honoring and upholding the values our great nation was founded upon, you help defend our home and our way of life. That is why our flag is so special; it represents everything that we are and everything we can become. It represents our future, and our freedom.