I Am The American Flag
Always, in our nation there are the negative thinkers who deluge us with cynical, gloomy, pessimistic predictions that would discredit our country. At times like these, I suggest we stop talking and start listening to the voice of the American Flag. I imagine that Old Glory, as some call her, with the wisdom of more than two hundred years of history behind her, would have fitting words for us today. Week after week she stands silently. Without the authority she represents, we would not have the freedom to speak as we do. Now, she speaks... Let us listen to her.
I am the American Flag. I wish to speak to all members of my country who are anxious, fearful, angry, hurt and worried. I will speak from the wisdom of a long life. I first felt the vigor of wind on my multicolored face when I unfurled my thirteen stars and strips more than two hundred years ago. I looked down to see the horses with their clattering hooves pulling rattling carriages over cobblestone streets. Since then I have looked up to see silver jets streak across blue skies. I have known every president. I have traveled from New York to San Francisco, from Chicago to New Orleans. I have unfurled my pride on sailing ships, steamers and mighty vessels of armed power to bring peace and freedom to oppressed people of the world. I have traveled far, across continents, oceans, deserts and, on the chilly snow-white tip of a mighty Saturn rocket, soared through the silent seas of space, until I stood proudly on the gray surface of the shining moon.
I was in the hand of your first president in the blood and snow of Valley Forge. I was there when our nation was born with a wilderness at her back and seas at her sides, and not one friendly neighbor to whom she, as a struggling infant orphan, could call for help in distress.
I saw that child survive and grow strong to belch smoke from steel furnaces and to break virgin prairie until wastelands were blanketed by fields of ripening grain. I flew on to ride from steel girders topping skyscrapers in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. I have earned the right to speak. The price paid for my freedom of speech is a price few can remember or even comprehend. Most forget, but I still see in my memory those bright, beautiful young men and women who died for me at Normandy, Pearl Harbor, steaming Asian jungles and dry dusty deserts half a world away, and when they died for me, I wrapped them in my love and draped honor over their caskets.
Those who died for my right to speak in freedom are buried in the Flanders field of France, the Punch Bowl of Hawaii, in the outskirts of Manila, the Philippines and in many other places under the sun. I fly proudly over their green graves at all of these places, praying that wars might end forever. Never forgetting them, I rise every morning to watch, hour after hour, over the graves of our finest men and women whose years were short but whose service was longer than we can measure.
Yes I, the American Flag, have lived long, traveled far and endured much. A million lives and more were sacrificed to give me the right to speak.
I speak about our land, today and tomorrow, her tragedy and triumph, her sins and her glory. I speak about our world, for my heart weeps for all nations, all men and women and little children of every race, creed and color.
Be proud of your country! There is so much about her that is beautiful, compassionate, tender and powerful yet gentle. I have been in her places of learning listening to children by the hundreds of thousands, yes millions, pledge their allegiance to me. I have looked back into their faces in Brownie, Girl Scout, Cub Scout and Boy Scout meetings from east to west and north to south, in little leagues and to the major leagues, where tens of thousands rose with respect as I made my gallant entrance.
Yes, I have been stained, torn, spit upon, burned and defiled by my detractors for over two hundred years, still I’m proud of our country... its schools, its courts and its assembly halls where laws are passed. I am proud of our managers, laborers, fireman, policemen, my Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marine Corps, all dedicated to the dignity of man!
I’m proud of our country. Yes, in spite of all her sins, and there are many... in spite of her shame, and she is not without her share of shame... I am still proud of America. Show me any other country that is stainless, spotless, sinless or shameless over whose people I could fly with great honor. I know of no other people who have been swifter to unselfishly spend billions of dollars sailing strange seas or soaring through unfamiliar skies to rescue besieged people with skin colors, facial features and foreign religions that all seemed so odd to the eyes of the kids from Peoria, Illinois or Sioux City, Iowa. But their hearts never noticed, for the young GIs saw them as only oppressed, tortured fellow human beings who were hurting and crying for help.
So, our service men and women left a trail of their own blood as they liberated people they had never seen before and would never see again. And along the way, they found time to deliver babies of primitive mothers and pass out chewing gum to little children.
And with the peace, they simply went home to loved ones, asking no thanks and expecting no monuments, surely never aiming to conquer territory or build a world empire! I’m proud of my people’s gifts to the world.
For over two hundred years, I’ve been packed in the trunks and suitcases of doctors, clergymen, missionaries and educators. Together we have traveled to Africa, China, India, Japan and the outermost parts of the earth to share the good life we were enjoying in America.
American, be proud of your country!! For no country knows greater freedom than America. Freedom for each man, woman and child to choose a life’s work whether it be doctor, lawyer, astronaut or horticulturist. Freedom to travel from state to state without armed guards at borders demanding to see passports. Freedom to try and to succeed. Freedom to fail and not be cast into prison for failure. Freedom to speak, write, praise, question or criticize anyone, no matter how high their station or rank, and not fear a wiretap on the telephone or a knock at the door in the middle of the night. Freedom to save and build a fortune you may give away at the end of your life to your family, church or friends. Freedom to worship as the mind and heart dictate. Yes, I am proud of the freedoms in this country. Freedom to borrow and build, to buy and sell, to make an honest profit in return for service offered. Freedom to start your own business and become a capitalist, to create dignified job opportunities for people who want to know the pride of honestly working for a living.
I am also proud of all the harvest of our land... the harvests of all fifty states. Let’s be proud of our country. Wonder drugs and vaccines to destroy forever ancient plagues that for centuries killed children and struck terror in the hearts of mothers every time they felt a fever on their child’s brow. Tools to handle any task, to reach the moon, to move mountains, or to penetrate and photograph the inside of the human heart. Tools made of iron, of plastic, of diamonds, of glass or tools made of laser beams!
I am proud of this country. I say, Be proud you are an American. Be proud! Be confident! Be bold! You can do anything you want to! You can climb any mountain! Possibilities... they are unlimited.!
When you see me flying in schools, legislative halls, courthouses and churches, listen to the rustle of my stars and stripes as I cry out to every boy and girl, man and woman, Dream your dreams! Dare to believe! You can make it in America!
I am the American Flag... the symbol of freedom... the emblem of the greatest sovereign nation on earth.
I was created by an act of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. I have led your sons and daughters into battle from Lexington to Vietnam to the Persian Gulf. I cover our honored dead beneath silent white markers row upon row. I am called Old Glory... the Star Spangled Banner. Honor me. Respect me. If necessary defend me with your lives! Never let our enemies tear me down, or I may not return.
Keep alight the fires of patriotism and strive earnestly for the spirit of democracy. Worship eternal God! Keep his commandments and I shall remain the bulwark of peace and freedom for all mankind. I am not just a scrap of cloth! I am your American Flag!
Look up to the emblem of our unity, our power, our thoughts and our purpose as a nation... the symbol of freedom-seeking people proud of these great and glorious United States of America. Look up to our Flag!