Thousands of flags pierce the earth, filling hundreds of acres of greenery with staffs of bronze and spears of gold, until every headstone and cross of stone, until every Star of David and star and crescent has a flag, until the land looks like a miniature battlefield; not a scene for Lilliputians, but a burial ground for giants, where heroes rest. Of many faiths, and some of no known name or faith except one: American.
Our war dead did not die for all nations. They did not die to honor the United Nations. They died on behalf of one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all—which is why we spend the day on our hands and knees, planting rows of American flags, not U.N. flags.
Our flag represents a creed, to which we pledge allegiance, irrespective of race or religion. An oath to protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. A declaration against fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereign. A promise by We the People, to all people born in America, to all people who seek to earn the right to be Americans, that we shall not meanly lose the last best hope of earth.
Our rights may not be self-evident to the enemies of America, in or outside the borders and territories of America. But history proves that we will fight to do right, that we will die with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right until all Americans are free to exercise their rights.
Our soil is free, not because of laws alone, but because of what it takes to assure the survival and success of liberty: life itself.
What our dead achieved, no man can undo.
Photo credit: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images