I am the Flag of the United States of America. It is almost impossible to go through a day without seeing me… flying proudly over public buildings and military bases… marching at the head of parades… or displayed as lapel pins on the jackets of patriots, young and old.
Perhaps nowhere do I strive to be displayed more proudly than in the schools of our country, for it is there that the first lessons of patriotism are taught to those who will grow up to guide, guard, and defend the country I represent.
But even there, as I am seen by millions of students each day, I am in danger of neglect. Like all things that are commonplace, I am often taken for granted, and the pledge that was written to show honor to my colors and my country becomes a meaningless ritual, changed without thought, by young people who have not learned, or who have forgotten that I represent the sacrifices, hopes, and dreams of all who came before, and of countless millions around the world who would share in their freedom.
It seems that it is only in times of war or national tragedy that I have meaning to the masses who call this land their home. If that is true, then our country is only one generation away from losing the rights and privileges that I represent, and that you take for granted. For after all, if you don’t care, then who will teach those who follow you?
Whether I fly proudly over the buildings of your community, or am placed beside the flags of your houses of worship… whether I am seen as a pin in the lapel of a military veteran, or as an oversized decoration covering the playing field of a football or baseball stadium… or whether you see me draped in silence over the coffin of a father, mother, sister, brother, son, or daughter who served or gave their life for this country, I still represent each and every one of you, and the freedoms that were won on the battlefields around the world.
To you I make this promise…
“I pledge allegiance to those who call the United States of America their home. I will fly proudly as a symbol of your hopes and dreams, and of the blood, sweat, and tears that were shed to gain and protect your rights, privileges, and freedoms. For as long as I am honored and respected, I will be a daily reminder that we are truly `one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’”