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6/6/11Posted Monday, June 6, 2011, at 9:29 AM
Watching the American flag fluttering freely in a light summer breeze reminds me of the battles fought to gain liberty. Our flag is a visual aid and serves as a picture of freedom in the eyes of the world.
The flag is deserving of honor and reverence. Many of us recall saying the Pledge of Allegiance at school when we were kids. And whether we are attending an event within the community or attending the proceedings in the Missouri House, we all stand out of respect when the colors are presented.
As we celebrate Flag Day on June 14, let's remember that the flag stands for much more. The 13 stripes on the flag represent the 13 original colonies that fought for our independence from Britain. Seven of the stripes are red symbolizing the blood our soldiers shed for liberty's sake. Six of the stripes are white representing the purity of our nation at its birth.
The fifty stars, one for each state, represent a union intertwined by our common birth in liberty and justice for all. It is a union so strong that a great civil war was unable to tear it asunder and one that will withstand the huge political differences currently encumbering our political system.
The stars are set in blue symbolizing the perseverance personified by the American spirit and American exceptionalism. Perseverance brought us out of the Great Depression and will bring us out of the current economic malaise. It defines us as a people and makes us innovators and entrepreneurs, exactly what is needed to heal our economic wounds.
We should celebrate the symbolic nuances of the American flag. Its meaning is deep. As Ruth Rous wrote in her patriotic writing "I am the Flag" found at http://www.usflag.org/iamtheflag.html:
I am the flag of the United States of America. I was born on June 14, 1777, in Philadelphia. There the Continental Congress adopted my stars and stripes as the national flag.
My thirteen stripes alternating red and white, with a union of thirteen white stars in a field of blue, represented a new constellation, a new nation dedicated to the personal and religious liberty of mankind. Today fifty stars signal from my union, one for each of the fifty sovereign states in the greatest constitutional republic the world has ever known.
My colors symbolize the patriotic ideals and spiritual qualities of the citizens of my country. My red stripes proclaim the fearless courage and integrity of American men and boys and the self-sacrifice and devotion of American mothers and daughters. My white stripes stand for liberty and equality for all. My blue is the blue of heaven, loyalty, and faith.
I represent these eternal principles: liberty, justice, and humanity. I embody American freedom: freedom of speech, religion, assembly, the press, and the sanctity of the home.
I typify that indomitable spirit of determination brought to my land by Christopher Columbus and by all my forefathers - the Pilgrims, Puritans, settlers at James town and Plymouth.
I am as old as my nation. I am a living symbol of my nation's law: the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights. I voice Abraham Lincoln's philosophy: "A government of the people, by the people, for the people."
I stand guard over my nation's schools, the seedbed of good citizenship and true patriotism. I am displayed in every schoolroom throughout my nation; every schoolyard has a flag pole for my display. Daily thousands upon thousands of boys and girls pledge their allegiance to me and my country.
I have my own law--Public Law 829, "The Flag Code" - which definitely states my correct use and display for all occasions and situations. I have my special day, Flag Day. June 14 is set aside to honor my birth.
Americans, I am the sacred emblem of your country. I symbolize your birthright, your heritage of liberty purchased with blood and sorrow. I am your title deed of freedom, which is yours to enjoy and hold in trust for posterity.
If you fail to keep this sacred trust inviolate, if I am nullified and destroyed, you and your children will become slaves to dictators and despots. Eternal vigilance is your price of freedom.
As you see me silhouetted against the peaceful skies of my country, remind yourself that I am the flag of your country, that I stand for what you are - no more, no less. Guard me well, lest your freedom perish from the earth.
Dedicate your lives to those principles for which I stand: "One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." I was created in freedom. I made my first appearance in a battle for human liberty. God grant that I may spend eternity in my "land of the free and the home of the brave" and that I shall ever be known as "Old Glory," the flag of the United States of America.
On June 14, we celebrate Flag Day. Let's remember what Old Glory represents.
As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Missouri House. If you would like to discuss any issue, please call 573-751-3629. You can also email me at Kent.Hampton@house.mo.gov. I look forward to hearing from you.