That Grand Old Flag

American flagToday is Flag Day in the United States of America. I proudly fly the stars and stripes outside my home, and I get misty-eyed every time I sing the national anthem or say the pledge of allegiance. These words from Rev. Henry Ward Beecher penned many long years ago still ring true today for me—

“If one asks the meaning of our flag, I say it means just what Concord and Lexington meant, what Bunker Hill meant. It means the whole glorious Revolutionary War. It means all that the Declaration of Independence meant. It means all that the Constitution of our people, organizing for justice, for liberty, and for happiness, meant. Under this banner rode Washington and his armies…. It waved on the highlands at West Point…. This banner streamed in light over the soldiers’ heads at Valley Forge…. It crossed the waters rolling with ice at Trenton…. Our flag carries American ideas, American history, and American feelings. Beginning with the colonies, and coming down to our time, in its sacred heraldry, in its glorious insignia, it has gathered and stored chiefly this supreme idea: Divine right of liberty in man. Every color means liberty. Every thread means liberty. Every form of star and beam or stripe of light means liberty. Not lawlessness, not license, but organized, institutional liberty—liberty through law, and laws for liberty. This American flag was the safeguard of liberty. Not an atom of crown was allowed to go into its insignia. Not a symbol of authority in the ruler was permitted to go into it. It was an ordinance of liberty by the people, for the people. That it meant, that it means, and, by the blessing of God, that it shall mean to the end of time.” —Henry Ward Beecher

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