The American flag we honor on Flag Day is not just made of fabric -- it is made from the courage, valor, and sacrifice of those proud to call themselves American. Pictured: American flags fly near the Washington Monument on Flag Day, June 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Today, June 14, is Flag Day across the United States.
It is a day that should compel us to pause, fly our nation's flag from our homes, businesses, and public spaces in recognition of what our flag represents. Simply put, it has been a symbol of hope, freedom, and opportunity for hundreds of millions of people throughout the generations.
When our immigrant forefathers arrived at Ellis Island in hopes of starting a new life, many clutched small American flags in their hands. Today, newly sworn-in American citizens leave the ceremony proudly holding the colors of their newly adopted country: red, white, and blue.
When Americans liberated Western Europe during World War II, overjoyed civilians found the means to create handmade American flags, then draped them out their windows. It reflected their heartfelt appreciation that they were being rescued from the horrors of the Third Reich; displaying the American flag was the most powerful means they had to acknowledge the sacrifice of American GIs.
Today, American flags are still poised on the surface of the moon, planted there by heroic Apollo astronauts who also left behind a plaque reminding eternity that we "came in peace for all mankind." These symbols have allowed the world to reflect on the fact that that a bold American adventure achieved the unbelievable and that we came not in conquest but to further expand our shared understanding of the universe.
The Pledge of Allegiance we recite today has seen several variations over time, but each word is a reminder that our nation is profoundly different from those came before it.
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
There are painfully few nations that can claim any of the above, much less a republic of one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Today that pledge is being tested, but our nation has faced countless challenges before, only to come out stronger than ever. We shall do so again, for that American flag we honor on Flag Day is not just made of fabric -- it is made from the courage, valor, and sacrifice of those proud to call themselves American.
Lawrence Kadish serves on the Board of Governors of Gatestone Institute.