In the end, a flag is just a piece of colored cloth. It has no intrinsic meaning, other than what those that see it, award it. So then, why do we stand up and salute it when the national anthem plays?
For many Americans, it is a symbol of everything we hold dear. And what matters most, Freedom and Liberty. The liberty to be who we want to be, live our lives without interference, and raise our families without having to worry about their safety and their liberty every minute of every day. Those rights do not come from the flag, they come from our humanity.
The founders of our country felt this so strongly, that they wanted an accounting of those rights, and guarantees by those that they gave the power of government to, that those rights would be protected, even from the government itself. Especially from the government, as the government holds the means to violence.
That document was the Constitution of These United States of America. So when you salute the flag, realize it is not a national symbol or an idol you are saluting, but the idea embodied in that document. We defend the rights of everyone with that simple piece of paper, and defend them with every means we have. We send our young men and women into danger to defend the Constitution, and make them swear an oath, not to the country, but to the document and its ideas, because we are not defending a colored piece of cloth, but the idea that we are human beings, and as human beings we have the rights to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”, as the Declaration of Independence so eloquently stated.
So, this flag day, remember that a piece of cloth can be trampled, burned and defaced. A piece of paper can be shredded and destroyed. But the ideas behind our Constitution can never be taken away, unless we give them away, or let them be taken away by others.