American families are preparing for a special time of the year -- the Fourth of July holiday. This is a holiday known for cookouts and picnics ... family reunions and fireworks. Its one of the biggest events of the summer.
Many holidays call for putting up decorations. When it comes to the Fourth of July, we fly the American Flag. But do NOT consider Old Glory a decoration. Old Glory is much more than a decoration. Its a tangible reminder that on THIS day we celebrate Americas independence. Independence and freedom are what so many have died for.
Flying the Flag helps us reflect on how proud we are to be Americans.
It helps remind us of the values that bind our diverse population together as one nation under God. They are values like:
Without such values, the fireworks and picnics are hollow expressions of jubilation for a day off. It is a big responsibility for us adults to share the significance of these values with young people. But it is a responsibility vital to our countrys future. Talk to young people about what the Flag represents -- and what it means to you.
I believe the Flag is the perfect symbol to help us understand Independence Day. While not everyone can relate to Americas battle of 1814 against the British in Baltimore Harbor ... the Flag can help us all understand Americas struggle for independence.
Francis Scott Key was in that harbor. He watched the fierce battle rage through the night. And with the dawning of a new day came the sight that inspired him to write The Star Spangled Banner. We all know what that sight was -- Old Glory still flying high after the fighting.
The American Flag still inspires Americans today. The American Flag waves as a reminder of the sacrifices necessary for Americas independence. We got it good here in the U-S-A. We got it SO good -- in fact -- that many forget about the sacrifices which make America a reasonably safe haven in a war-beaten world.
The men and women of The American Legion want to help keep the record straight. You see ... Legionnaires know that American freedom is a by-product of American sacrifice. Legionnaires know that whenever it was time for America to fight for freedom ... sons and daughters ... fathers and mothers ... donned a uniform and answered the call. Legionnaires -- above all -- know that freedom is not free. It never will be. Legionnaires know how the Flag inspires American service members as they toil in combat.
Through separation from loved ones. Through battles for life or death. Uncertainty every day. The American Flag is one constant, reminding them -- as it reminds us -- of the high price we must pay to preserve the freedom we enjoy today.
Today, while American children pinwheel their arms ... carrying sparklers ... youth in the Middle East tread through war-torn communities. Today, as we display Old Glory, the people of Liberia -- locked in a civil war -- have no idea what their nations flag will represent. So today, when you hoist the Flag, look at it for a moment and think about how great it is to be an American.
Think about our countrymen. Think about our fellow citizens -- who fought for freedom symbolized by Old Glory. The men and women of The American Legion believe the Flag is worthy of a special place in our society. Thats why Legionnaires support a constitutional amendment to protect the Flag from intentional physical desecration.
So have a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July holiday. Bring on the food, friends, family and fireworks. But lets celebrate what we should be celebrating. Independence. Freedom. Democracy. And the important responsibility to pass on to the next generation the values that are essential to preserve this great experiment in self-government.