"Within him, as he hurled himself forward, was born a love, a despairing fondness for this flag that was near him. It was a creation of beauty and invulnerability."
- Stephen Crane, "The Red Badge of Courage"
Today, June 14th, is Flag Day. It is a day meant to honor the heritage embodied in the Flag of the United States of America. It commemorates the adoption of the flag by resolution of the Second Constitutional Congress in 1777. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson officially established by proclamation June 14th as Flag Day.
The Stars and Stripes is displayed on military bases, at diplomatic and consular establishments, and on Navy vessels all over the world. It is a source of comfort, a refuge, for Americans in foreign lands. It has been borne in battle in all our wars. Patriotic Americans pledge allegiance to the flag and to the republic for which it stands.
Some who profess disdain for their country and their government burn it, spit and trample upon it. In so doing they dishonor not the flag, which is stainless, but themselves and the often hateful causes for which they stand.
The Confederate Flag, as we in South Carolina are particularly aware, represents a heritage distinct from that of the United States flag. It is, nevertheless, a heritage, one shared by the descendants of the many tens of thousands of brave Confederate soldiers who perished in the Civil War. Few of them knowingly fought for the preservation of the evil that was slavery. Most died, honorably, in defense of their homeland.
It is long past time for all Americans to put aside the controversy surrounding innocent display of flags of the Confederacy. That war is long over. The controversy is petty. We need no new one based on a misguided principle that seeks to diminish the heritage of one small segment of the American people to appease the demands of another.
On this Flag Day, display the flag of the United States of America. Publicly or silently, pledge allegiance to it and to the great country in which we are privileged to live.