The legend of Betsy Ross. The raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima. The Pledge of Allegiance.

American icons, all.

And worth honoring. Especially today. Flag Day.

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress declared June 14th to be a day honoring the  American flag, a symbol of a country that’s imperfect but unfinished with its ideals of liberty, freedom, and justice for all as guiding beacons for its citizenry.

And the world.

Baseball perpetuates America’s link to the flag before every game with a rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner.

Not America the Beautiful.

Not My Country ‘Tis of Thee.

The Star-Spangled Banner.

We rise, remove our caps, and sing the lyrics that we know by rote, even if the singer occasionally forgets.

The Star-Spangled Banner is a song about the American flag that flies after a British attack during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key wrote the poem The Defense of Fort McHenry after seeing the rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air. The song’s lyrics come from the poem.

The American flag is the symbol of the American brand.  Resilience. Toughness. Freedom. When we cheer at the last line, “home of the brave,” we’re making a statement of appreciation for living in America. For one brief shining moment, we’re conscious that we are united as one. E pluribus unum.

But when I see the American flag, I often think of the sacrifices made by soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and members of the Coast Guard.

I think of those who returned from battles and did not get the heroes’ welcome they deserved.

I think of those who returned in coffins adorned by draping flags.

I think of those who did not come back at all.

She’s a grand old flag.  Forever in peace may she wave.