Flag Day honors the spirit of freedom

  • Published
  • By P. A. Tezuka
  • Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs
"Oh, Say can you see?" 

So moved was Francis Scott Key when he saw the tattered but proud American flag still flying high at dawn over Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Md., after an all-night bombardment by the British rockets during the War of 1812, he wrote the words to our National Anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner." 

June 14 is Flag Day. How many of us really know what it's all about? Do you hang the flag for the sake of the name, by habit without any thought? Or can you see the life within the flag, past the fabric and thread it's made of? 

President Woodrow Wilson dedicated June 14 as Flag Day in 1916, and in 1949, Congress designated the day as National Flag Day. It is a day to honor the flag to give tribute to the people who created it and to remember the symbolism for which millions have lived and died for. 

A flag is the soul of the people who stand behind it. It represents the individuality and the spirit of those people. The sight of one's flag gives a sense of comfort, of belonging, of security, of pride and of hope. To be able to fly the flag is to know freedom. 

The flag of the United States has represented the spirit of the American people throughout history. Through peace-time and through battle, it has traveled not just across the globe but into outer space. From Betsy Ross's "original" design during the Declaration of Independence, to Washington's crossing of the Delaware, to the famous flag-raising at Iwo Jima, to the Olympic games in foreign countries, to the reflection on Neil Armstrong's facemask on the first moon landing, to Mars robot Rover and to the patches sewn on the uniforms of our deployed soldiers - wherever our flag goes, we are there too. 

Call it the "Stars and Stripes," "Old Glory," "Red, White and Blue," "Betsy Ross" - it all refers to the same thing. It shouts out loud and clear, "We are Americans! We are proud and we are free!" 

"Oh, Say can you see?" May the flag of the United States of America fly high, for now and forever for all to see.