Today is Flag Day

There will be a lot of red, white and blue on display today as Maui residents show off their patriotism on Flag Day.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14 of that year as Flag Day. Thirty-three years later, Congress resolved that every June 14 would be observed as “Flag Day.”

Now, 103 years after Wilson was persuaded to issue his proclamation, many of us are old enough to appreciate what Old Glory symbolizes. Since that proclamation, our national symbol led the fight in the mustard gas filled trenches to win World War I. The historic photo of the flag being raised on Iwo Jima by U.S. Marines came to symbolize the defeat of the Axis powers in World War II.

Some 43 years after Iwo Jima, a flag-waving crowd stood in front of the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin as President Ronald Reagan challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” The Cold War was ending — and once more our flag was part of the birth of a new independence.

The legend has it that in late 1776, George Washington and two other members of the Continental Congress — George Ross and Robert Morris — asked the young widow Betsy Ross to sew the first flag. Ross presented Washington with a flag with 13 white stars on a blue background surrounded by red and white bars.

Two hundred-and-seven years ago during the War of 1812, the sight of a tattered flag still flying over Fort McHenry in Baltimore inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner,” later adopted as our national anthem.

The flag was a symbol and the struggle for independence it represented then has been an inspiration for over two centuries. Many of us take for granted that we have the freedom to criticize our leaders, choose to run against them, or simply vote them out of office.

We only need to look around us to realize that the freedoms we take for granted are only a dream for most of the world.

So it is good to see our flag and what it represents so widely celebrated. We are blessed to live in this nation — and our national symbol deserves veneration.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.