To fly the flag is to honor the mystic chords of memory. It is to hear not a harmonious hymn of battle but the disharmony of peaceful dissent. It is to record the jangling discords of the march of freedom, not a symphony of complacency nor an orchestration of complicity in the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world. To fly the flag—to raise it on this day, Flag Day—is to celebrate the greatness of America.
We are a great nation, not because we have always been good, but because we have never failed to try to do good; to right the wrongs of America as God gives us the firmness to see the right; to see to it that we are true to what we said on paper, so every American will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood; to see a sea of flags—from sea to shining sea—where liberty is our birthright and life itself is an unalienable right.
To see our flag is to feel what no other flag evokes: tranquility. It is the tranquility no Christian can feel when Islamists wave the Black Banner of death. It is the tranquility no Jew can feel when racists wrap themselves in the imperial tricolor of hatred and defeat, where the crooked cross of evil profanes the cross of Christendom. It is the tranquility no African American can feel when white supremacists decorate themselves with a desecration to the Union.
The right to fly these flags proves we should fear no man, not when the worst among us cannot destroy the best within us. Not when we 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.
We pledge that, and more, because we are the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Photo credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call