Howís it going with you? Me? Iím doing especially well today. Iím feeling as if Iíve been reborn or something. Oh, not in the religious sense, but in the living sense. Itís I speaking, your American flag. Itís the July 4th weekend, 2011.
We donít see each other as much as weíd like, do we? Oh youíve seen me around, I know, but youíve taken me for granted a lot. I hang outside post offices and other Federal buildings, Iím unrolled and hung on special American holidays, and Iím in all parades. I think my real meaning is sometimes lost though. But I understand.
They say one Betsy Ross was the first person to make me in around 1776, but thereís some controversy about that. It doesnít matter really, I only care that I was made. (And I personally think she did. Itís such a cool story, right?)
My colors? Beautiful combination, donít you agree? Red, white and blue. I mean talk about your flag fashion statements! Strong. Brilliant. Classic! Makes every other flag look sort of dim by comparison, if I may indulge a little egotism here. I will never go out of style. Iím told the red is for hardiness and valor, white for purity and innocence, and blue for vigilance, perseverance and justice.
Lots of old versions of me are still around. Iíve been made of homespun and wool and every sort of material. A huge, old version of me hangs in the Smithsonian, and other examples of me, with lesser groups of stars on my blue field than todayís fifty, are worth lots of money these days, I hear.
I understand the rules made up for me; you know, where and how to hang me and when, were created to show me respect; taking me in at sundown, having me lit if Iím left out at night, what kind of weather to avoid hanging me in, etc.
Never letting me touch the ground is one rule I really like. Thatís sort of a moral crime, you know, to let that happen. People standing at attention, right arm across left breast, a hand raised in salute and hats removed as Iím carried past them is my favorite. Makes me feel good. Makes me feel honored.
I am also honored that F. S. Key wrote our astounding National Anthem while watching my broad stripes and bright stars gallantly streaming oíer the ramparts through the perilous night. And the honor I feel being flown above our Capital building, or covering the coffin of a fallen soldier is indescribable.
Because of something that happened one day almost 10 years ago, I feel as if Iím beloved again, as if I stand for something. That week I was hung everywhere, from homes, trees, bridges. I was seen all alone in fields, painted on rocks, taped to mailboxes, fluttering from the ends of car aerials, pasted onto cars and trucks. People were wearing my colors on their jackets and they were not burning me that day, at least not in America, nor were they desecrating or ignoring me. That week, the week of September 11,th 2001, I was born again. They tell me the stores ran out of me everywhere. Even the lady writing this letter for me, LC Van something suspended me between two trees in her front yard, and kept me there for months.
America was united again, just as we were before and during World War II, and frankly folks, it felt really good. The senseless, horrifying carnage America suffered on that awful September 11th nearly ten years ago brought America to tears, but not to our knees. We were finally Americans again, reminded of the greatness of our land, and of ourselves.
I am proud on this July Fourth, 2011 weekend to remember that date, the 10th year anniversary of the World Trade Center bombings, coming up soon, in just over two months. I got to represent a great people who chose that terrible week to not hang black bunting around our mighty nation, but instead to hang me. Long may you live, in prosperity and safety, good people of the United States.
Happy July Fourth, the date our Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. I intend to keep these spangled stars and stripes of mine flying over you, the land of the free and the brave, forever. Bravo to all of you, and God Bless America!