We hold dear everything the American flag stands for: a government by the people and for the people, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and hamburgers on the grill. And we take advantage of endless opportunities to show we’re proud of the USA – FLAWS AND ALL.
We turn to giant field-sized versions of “Old Glory” at sporting events when we rise to sing our national anthem. We unfurl the flag on our front porches any time we wish.
Just what is it about the Stars and Stripes that makes us so obsessed? In a country these days so sharply divided along all sorts of lines – political, social, racial, geographic – it’s because our flag is a symbol that unites us beyond it all. It reminds us that we are all Americans, “one nation under God,” regardless of our differences.
In times of our nation’s greatest triumphs or darkest moments, the American flag has been our uniting symbol.
When we display the American flag, our patriotism is not pride in the pain of our nation’s past. Even though America has a deeply flawed history – our flag is a reminder that we as a nation hold dear the concept of “justice for all” even if we are still learning how to truly live into that ideal.
We celebrate the founding principles that paved the way for change, whether that change was trading royalty for representation in 1776 or exchanging slavery for emancipation in 1863.
We salute the flag to celebrate that we have short-term elected presidents, not lifetime rulers.
And perhaps most importantly we celebrate the flag to pay respect to our men and women in uniform – those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives for the freedoms we often take for granted.
So next time we see an American flag, let’s remember to say a prayer of gratitude for all it represents – the freedom to speak our minds, to have our own ideas and opinions, to worship as we please, to live freely and to pursue our dreams whatever they may be.
And let us also be reminded of the responsibility our freedom gives us to do our part to make this world a better place.