Once again, the people of the United States of America seem to be divided by their beliefs and convictions. There are huge differences in the ways Americans live, work, and play. There are passionate disagreements regarding the practice of religion, the breadth of the law, the actions of government, and the extent of an American's personal freedoms and choices. Our unity is tried daily by a war of questionable purpose.
The social divide between the poor and affluent in our country is pitifully evident by the lack of compassion displayed by the "haves" toward the "have-nots." Corruption in government and business is rampant, and it seems too often, that the less privileged members of our society are left to fend for themselves. The same nation that proclaimed, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me," now pretends not to see these same people sleeping in cars and under bridges.
Is it possible that a collective America now takes for granted what our forefathers and ancestors sacrificed to win; the freedoms that millions of immigrants sought when they arrived at these shores? Have we forgotten the words we spoke each morning as we faced our national symbol and started our school day?
"I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America;And to the republic, for which it standsOne nation, under God, Indivisible,With liberty and justice for all."
Read the above words one more time and take a moment to think about what they mean. Is the symbolic meaning of our Flag coming back to you?
The United States Flag represents many things. It symbolizes the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights, and should remind us of the rights and freedoms guaranteed us as a birthright. It represents the justice and equality that is intended to prevail throughout the land of the free and the home of the brave. It is a reminder throughout the world that America is a government of the people, by the people, who when united, cannot be defeated.
Hundreds of thousands of men have died to defend the many ideals that our flag stands for, and it's our responsibility not to forget that. Those men and that symbol of liberty deserve our continued respect and honor.
The next time you attend a sporting event and stand for the Star Spangled Banner, hear taps being played at a funeral, or watch a parade as you celebrate your freedom, offer the flag the respect it deserves. Proper etiquette and salutation is detailed by U. S. Code Title 36, Chapter 10 and can be seen at http://www.usflag.org/flagetiquette.html. The flag may be flown at any time, as long as it's illuminated at night, and is made out of appropriate material to withstand the elements. Times of the year when it is particularly appropriate to fly the flag are also available at http://www.usflag.org/flagholidays.html.
With the bi-polarity present in our society these days, we should take the time to remind ourselves where and how this great nation began. Our ability to publicly agree or disagree with the policies and actions that the leadership of America implements, is represented by that red, white and blue banner. As a nation, we must remember that by not acting as stewards of all that the flag symbolizes, the freedom, justice, equality and humanity represented by it will be taken from us.