Archive for June 12th, 2010

Thank you so much to the Elks Club for again allowing me to share in today’s celebration of our American Flag, the symbol of our freedoms, our loyalties, our ideals, our scars and our bravery. It is an honor I enjoy and I am humbled by your invitation.

In preparation for today’s presentation, I spent some time reviewing the history of our nation and the flag and several thoughts came to mind I’d like to share.

The first is how young we are as a nation, but how timeless our ideals are. It is only fitting that the men that formed the First Continental Congress in 1774 were young as well, most in their 30’s and 40’s. The confidence of youth gave birth to our dreams. These men were passionate, idealistic, and uncompromisingly independent; in a word they were revolutionaries!

I put it to you all here today that we still are motivated by their spirit, that it has echoed through the past two centuries as we have rallied for ethnic and gender equality, and have staunchly fought, under the hallmark of our flag, for humanity around the globe.

The first flags were fashioned in 1776, each hand-sewn and handsome, treasured representations of the beginning of our new nation. The first formal adoption of a uniform design came in 1777. No one person can be officially credited with its design, which in a way is appropriate. We are a nation of diverse interests, ethnicities, ages and circumstance, yet we all pledge allegiance, our hands over our hearts, to one flag.

In 1785, our flag was carried to Canton, China on a merchant ship – our clear enterprise as a nation already established and active. We were known for almost 150 years to the Chinese, because of the beauty of our flag, as the “flower flag country”. As we all know, we may extol the beauty of a nation that surpases its symbol.

Our flag changes with time, evolving as each star is added to indicate the admission of a new state to our Union. It’s important to note our continued optimism and expectation for growth, as designs for the addition of six more stars already exist. Our expectations remain unbridled, our Union unbroken despite wars and difficult economic, civic and environmental challenges.

We remain a UNION.

We must remember this term when we think of the men and women that have followed our flag into unimaginably adverse conditions – be it into certain defeats in battles during the Civil War or courageously into countries dominated by tyranny to fight for the rights of others, that they may choose freely to worship openly and live with dignity and equality.

We’ve brandished our flag, this symbol of all that we hold to be true and good, as we liberated the helpless from concentration camps and rebuilt war-ravaged Europe. We’ve followed our flag when sending troops, medical staff, pharmaceuticals, food and clean water to areas around the world devastated by disasters, be they from flood or famine, or man-made atrocities like those in Bosnia, Somalia, the Philippines or Iraq.

We follow our flag.

We follow our hearts.

Our flag not only heralds our generosity but also our industry. It serves as an international symbol of prosperity and hope. Ours is the only flag to fly on the MOON!

I consider myself so fortunate to be a recipient of the gifts this flag has given me. I was lucky enough to travel as a young person and to see first hand the absence of liberty – to need an escort from the airport to my hotel in the USSR and to witness the need of relatives to have a passport to travel from one town to the next in an area as close as Amsterdam and Schenectady. I’ve seen poverty so extreme that people considered a corral of cinderblocks three deep with a dirt floor and chickens habitable; completely acceptable – unaware of the everyday conveniences we possess: clothing, carpets, music, running water and ELECTRICITY – all unthinkable to the forgotten.

Our fortunes come from our flag – from the convictions of our forefathers and the sacrifices of countless lives even today. Please take a moment today and Monday to reflect on our true wealth, the comfort we enjoy and the love that we share, and give thanks that God planted you under this flag.

Thank you again. God bless.


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“All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.”

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