To The Herald-Whig:
Flag Day, June 14, is a day for all Americans to celebrate. Our flag is a representation of our independence and our unity as a nation. Our flag has a proud and glorious history.
Seventy-five years ago, an iconic photograph by Joe Rosenthal helped rally a nation. The flag raising at Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima showed America's fighters at their finest.
But the image wasn't just about the heroic marines. It wasn't about Navy Corpsman John Bradley, who helped raise another flag that was chronicled in an earlier photograph. It was about the symbol that they cherished enough to risk their lives in order to plant atop a hill for all to see. Three of the flag raisers did not survive the battle.
Our esteem for the flag is why the American Legion called together 68 other patriotic, fraternal civic and military groups for the purpose of drafting a code of flag etiquette in 1923. They were enormously successful.
It is why American Legionnaires continue to visit classrooms to teach young people about the importance of respecting this precious symbol of freedom.
Although many American flags have been tattered and torn in battle, they are often symbols of hope that even in the most trying of times America will survive.
That's what Old Glory is all about. Materially, it's a piece of cloth, but symbolically it means so much more. It represents not just our country, but those who defended and, in some cases, died for it.
Another memorable flag-raising occurred in the rubble of the World Trade Center shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Three New York City firefighters reminded the nation, and the world, that yes -- America had taken a blow -- but the United States was not defeated and would indeed rise again.
Americans love their flag, which is why President Harry S. Truman, an active and proud member of the American Legion, signed an Act of Congress in 1949 that designated June 14 as Flag Day.
Though impressive and attractive, it isn't the fabric, the cloth or even the colors that make the flag of the United States special. It is the people who defend it and the nation that it represents that make the American flag the envy of the world.
And long will she fly!
God bless America and God bless our flag. Display her proudly on June 14.