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June 16, 2008

What Flag Day Means to Me


Resolved, that the Flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.


With these words, on June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the flag of the United States of America. Flag Day has since been partly eclipsed by other American traditions and holidays, and although it is still celebrated by numerous families and in many parts of the country, it has been forgotten by too many.


I, however, will never forget Flag Day. On June 14, 2005, on Flag Day three years ago, I became a citizen of the United States. Standing on the grounds of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, I renounced allegiance to any other country, swore to defend the U.S. Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and promised to serve America in both combat and non-combat positions if she asked me to.


In making my oath, I became part of the family built by the Founding Fathers and nurtured by generations of heroes, entrepreneurs, pastors, fathers and mothers. And every day since, I have become even more convinced that, when given more than 200 countries to choose from, there is no other nation on Earth that would deserve my promise of allegiance.


But I was willing to promise risking life and limb for one land, America. This is because, since its adoption, the U.S. flag has never in history entered another land with the intention to steal, rape, pillage or absorb. Quite the opposite. The U.S. flag has had a tendency, more than any other flag, to lead American soldiers into a battle for the freedom of foreigners. And when it did stay in those liberated lands, it was to fly over the buried bodies of those who sacrificed everything for other humans’ freedom and dignity.


I embraced America because its Declaration of Independence recognizes that our rights come from God, and because even its Constitution acknowledges our Lord. I embraced it because its freedoms – economic, political, religious – are unsurpassed in any other country. Indeed, in what other country can you truly speak your mind without fear of a lawsuit, jail time or worse? Don’t mention European countries, where the thought police can prosecute you for expressing your mere opinion about certain groups or even for your denial of historical facts.


In fact, is there another flag I can fly without being mocked by its other carriers? Though European countries would naturalize me, hardly any would embrace and incorporate me as smoothly as the United States has. I would be so out-of-place in the homogeneous countries in Asia, Africa and South America that my citizenship would be a mere technicality to the locals. Even in the Middle East, my birthplace, I would be ruthlessly discriminated against by almost every country for my Christian faith; or if I lived in a safe Christian pocket (as I did in Lebanon), I would have to endure a life-long struggle against those who constantly seek to make an Islamic state out of my homeland.


But no. I am in the one place that treats me as a valued human being, and that has been seeking, with wild success in the last century, to turn the rest of the world’s peoples into valued human beings as well. And it is for this reason that I fly the flag of the United States. It is for this reason that I will never forget Flag Day.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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