I 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.
More than six decades ago, the U.S. Congress established today as a national day of observance commemorating the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on June 14, 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress.
Today, as the red, white and blue banner waves majestically in the morning breeze, its stars brightly shining, we note how it often of late it has bowed at half staff, a symbol of a nation in mourning for the tragedies that have befallen us at home and the terror that has struck our friends and neighbors abroad.
Even as we celebrate the thing which represents us as a united group of states, we feel the sting of that which is trying to divide us — as individuals, as people of faith, as Americans, as citizens of a country which still, even today, is more about love than the hate which rears its ugly head, leaving death and destruction in its evil wake.
As we’ve seen in the aftermath of other tragedies — 9/11, Columbine, Sandy Hook, Paris, Boston, South Carolina, Belgium, London, Manchester, Orlando — people pull together in the face of tragedy even as those jockeying for political and social positions try to elbow their way to the front of the line, attempting to make yet another senseless act of violence a wedge that will, because of our unique differences, pull us apart.
United, however, is the only way to defeat those who wish to, by dividing us, force us to destroy ourselves. We must not allow that to happen, even as the conversations become muddied and the issue at hand becomes skewed by those trying to steer our thoughts away from the real tragedy.
Our focus should be on the people who have been killed and injured, the families who have lost loved ones, the friends who must now walk alone.
No matter where has happened of late or to whom, the issue remains clear; lives have been taken; people have been forever changed. Brothers, fathers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends, loved ones. Their skin color, their sexual orientation, their socio-economic status, their decisions, their faith are all secondary.
People have been killed and it should not have happened. Period.
We can allow the conversations to stray; we can allow the hate of others to seep into our bones; we can allow others to ignite divisions based on everything except the one inherent truth of the senseless acts of those who spew hate; we can allow the tragedies define us; we can allow it to destroy us. Or we can make this the thing that unites us in love and acceptance.
If we would all remember that we are one nation under God; if we would all hold on to the fact that we are indivisible; and if we would all acknowledge that we are all, indeed, entitled to liberty and justice, then no one will conquer us, no matter how often they try.
Our flag, as Joe Barton once said, honors those who have fought to protect it, and is a reminder of the sacrifice of our nation’s founders and heroes. As the ultimate icon of America’s storied history, the Stars and Stripes represents the very best of this nation.
Today our flag represents those whose lives have senselessly been taken by evil forces among us, our soldiers who bravely fight for us and then the rest of us as we stand united behind our still great country – the United States of America. Long may Old Glory wave, long may we respect her and what she stands for.