Flag Day: Blood, spirit, and sky

June 14 brings us the birthday of both the American flag, and the U.S. Army.  From an era of satellite surveillance and electronic warfare, we look back to a time when armies had to march behind banners to identify themselves on the field of battle.  Never has such a gallant Army borne a more beautiful flag into the winds of history.

Who needs such a symbol, in a time when the very air hums with a nearly infinite volume of words, sounds, and images?  And yet, stacks of books and hours of talk could not capture the honor, compassion, courage, and sacrifice held in those stars and stripes.  The history of America is painted in the colors of blood, spirit, and sky.

Some find it fashionable to sneer at our flag, and express their contempt for blind, simple-minded, jingoistic patriotism.  But what better, more elegant means does an American have to express love for our birthright than to raise the flag woven by our Founders, consecrated by the brothers who fell in our terrible Civil War, and declare: ???I stand with them!???

What our great-grandfathers said, I agree with.  What our grandfathers died for, I revere.  What our fathers built, I will defend.  So many Americans carried that flag to faraway places, and wore it upon chest and brow when they challenged evil and tyranny.  I will remember the shroud they sleep beneath, and raise it to the sky, where it belongs.

She is a remarkably vital and durable flag, gracefully welcoming new stars within her firmament as the United States grew.  She is sometimes burned in hatred, but never consumed by the flames.  She has been tattered by cannon fire, but has never unraveled.  She is small enough to fit on a meal placed into the hands of a hungry child, but large enough to circle the world.  She rises from every corner of the Earth, as well as the dust of the Moon… and they will not be the last worlds to receive her.  She is always eager to fly where she is needed, but so very patient with the statesmen, scientists, and philosophers who invest lifetimes in seeking an explanation for what she really means.

The American flag has labored for centuries to raise people up, instead of demanding they kneel.  She has spent countless hours quietly reminding men and women that liberty is their birthright, not a gift they have been given; a quality of the soul, not a commodity to be bartered away.  She doesn???t look a bit tired after all that work.  She waves against the Sun as I write this, and looks no less radiant.  May her birthday bring many happy returns.