Charleston’s historic forts celebrate Flag Day with fun, educational eventsUnifying Flag Day inspiration

Brad Nettles/ Fort Moultrie National Park ranger Dennis Birr (left) and education technician Sydney Schneider show the proper way to fold an American flag, so that no red is visible. Fort Sumter National Monument will celebrate the 97th anniversary of Flag Day at the Visitor Education Center on Concord Street Friday.

Brad Nettles

“What difference if I hail from North or South, or from the East or West? My heart is filled with love for all of these. I only know I swell with pride and deep within my breast I thrill to see Old Glory paint the breeze. This is my country, land of my birth. This is my country, grandest on earth.”

— Don Raye

No American who travels the world in these troubled times can fail to feel the lift of spirit given by just a glimpse of our nation’s flag. Whether it be on a flagpole within U.S. embassy grounds, at the masthead of an arriving U.S. ship in a foreign port, or emblazoned on a T-shirt worn by a fellow traveler, the flag of the United States of America is an outward symbol of the land we all love, regardless of the party divisions that sometimes put us at each other’s throats.

These divisions are as stark now as they have been for many years, fueled by opposing views on what is best for our country. Should we draw back from the post-World War II role we assumed as policeman of far-off places with once strange sounding names? Korea. Vietnam. Iraq. Afghanistan. Should we give up our crusade for democracy and liberty in lands beyond our own borders? In the field of foreign affairs, should we mind our own business? Take care of our own people before seeking to reform others?

George Washington, in his Farewell Address, spoke to this. “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations with them to have as little political connections as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.”

Thomas Jefferson, in his first Inaugural Address, built upon this theme: “With all [our] blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow citizens — a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government. ...

“Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship for all nations, entangling alliances with none.”

Good advice, even today when the world is far more complicated than it was in the Founders’ time.

On this Flag Day, let us put aside our differences, and our well-founded distrust of a Leviathan government grown far too big and intrusive, and renew our pledge to the flag of all our people and our beloved country.