The symbol that unifies

On June 14, 1777, nearly a year after the issuance of the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress adopted a 13-star, red-white-and-blue flag as the emblem of the new nation, the United States of America.

We should think about that every time we see the flag, now with a star for each of the 50 states.

We should think of those ensuing 240 years between that day and today, of all that has happened in the world. Technology has invented things that were beyond even the imagination of the Continental Congress members of that day.

The nation has been through wars, natural disasters, economic disasters, controversy and division, unity, victory and defeat.

The underriding reason it continues to exist is the will of its people, symbolized by that beautiful banner.

Congress moved in 1949 to make every June 14 Flag Day, and in 1966, added that the week during which Flag Day falls be designated Flag Week.

Know the proper ways to respect your nation’s most recognizable symbol. Know that it generally should be displayed only from sunrise to sunset, or with proper illumination, beyond the hours of daylight.

Know that the field of blue with the white stars should be displayed at the top left of the flag.

Know that no other flag should be displayed above that of the flag of the United States of America.

Check your flag — you do own one, right? — to be sure it is in good repair.

Know that if it’s not, there are proper ways to dispose of it. The symbol of the United States of America does not simply get thrown unceremoniously into a bag of garbage.

It’s easy to think of the flag with reverence if, each time we see the symbol of our nation, we say a little thanks to ourselves for the great, peaceful and free nation in which we live.

No, it’s not perfect. But the flag represents the ideal, and, like all things that are the work of human beings, the ideal must always be sought and worked toward, though, perhaps, never achieved.

We should remember that we have a life that we can enjoy because of the sacrifices of people who work for our freedom, and who sacrifice for our freedom.

Today, take a moment and just look at an American flag.

Remember those who have died to preserve the way of life the flag symbolizes.

Remember that the symbol is a meaningful one, one of preservation of freedom, purity, justice and strength, no matter the divisions that set us apart.

That flag is the symbol that unifies.

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