Good morning. June 14th is Flag Day, which commemorates the date in 1777 when
the Continental Congress officially made the Stars and Stripes the symbol
of America. The founders declared that the 13 stars gracing the original flag
represented "a new constellation," just as America represented new
hope and new light for mankind.
Over the past 226 years, our flag has been a symbol of freedom wherever
it flies. It inspires hope in people suffering under tyranny or terror. It
welcomes immigrants from every land searching for a better life. And it rallies
our nation in times of conflict and crisis.
Whenever the flag is raised, Americans are reminded of our unity in the
great cause of liberty and justice for all. Our nation's flag is hung proudly
in homes an schools, honored in parades and stadiums, flown on the field
of battle, and folded at the graves of heroes.
When Francis Scott Key saw the Stars and Stripes flying over Fort McHenry
in 1814, he knew that liberty would persevere. That same faith was affirmed
by Marines who planted the flag at Iwo Jima, and by the heroes of 9/11, who
raised and saluted the flag at Ground Zero.
By showing respect for our flag, we show reverence for the ideals that guide
our nation. And we show appreciation for the men and women who have served
and sacrificed in defense of those ideals -- from the early patriots of the
Continental Congress to the members of our military defending freedom around
the world today.
This weekend, in communities across the nation, Americans will have the
opportunity to honor the flag, and to thank the men and women who serve our
country in uniform. As they continue to fight the war on terror in lands
far from home, our troops rely on the support of their fellow citizens. I
urge all Americans to participate in Flag Day celebrations honoring American
armed forces and recognizing our veterans.
Our nation is strengthened every time a citizen steps forward to serve a
cause greater than self-interest. And each of us can serve and strengthen
America by reaching out to neighbors in need. There are so many ways to improve
the lives of fellow Americans -- by answering the call to feed the hungry,
or caring for the elderly, or teaching a child to read, or joining with neighbors
to support the police, fire fighters and medics who respond to emergencies.
Every action you take will strengthen the bonds of community that unite all
Americans, and extend the promise of American life to another citizen.
Between now and the 4th of July, Americans will reflect often on the foundations
of our freedom. Our country's founding generation established liberty and
justice on this continent more than two centuries ago, and every generation
is expected to protect and defend those ideals. Our duty as Americans is
to serve our country, to defend the cause of liberty, and to extend the realm
of freedom across the earth. Our generation can proudly say that we are answering