Honoring flag should remain integral in America


It is the time of year to fly our American flags proudly. It began in May with Memorial Day, to be followed this month by Flag Day, and end with the “grand finale” on July 4.

The common thread is Old Glory waving in the breeze.

In our country, there are no symbols more synonymous with Independence Day than our American flag. It is a powerful emblem of our unity, resilience and patriotism. It is the time-tested bond that binds citizens from all levels of society, ethnic backgrounds, cultures, races and genders. We fight and die for which it stands.

That flag covers veterans’ caskets, including my dad’s, and is carefully creased, folded and presented to grieving families as part of final interment.

For Americans, it is fitting that U.S. family businesses and manufacturers stitch them together. Ninety-four percent of flags flown in front of our houses and government buildings, over cemeteries, sports stadiums and military installations are made in America.

An estimated 150 million American flags are sold every year, with 76% of Americans 65 years and older saying they or their family owns a flag. Even 62% of 18- to 24-year-olds say they or their family owns one, according to the National Retail Federation.

While 60% of Americans say they have a “very positive” view of the U.S. flag, YouGov polling shows that younger Americans are less enthusiastic. However, among all groups in the U.S. today, the “Red, White and Blue” is still No.1.

“However, it is disappointing that only 55% of Americans know what Memorial Day is about, and only about 1 in 5 flew a flag at half-staff or attended a patriotic event,” according to a Harris poll.

Additionally, that survey showed that only 28% had attended a local ceremony or patriotic event on a previous Memorial Day, and 22% had left a flag or flowers at a gravesite or visited a military monument.

Meanwhile, AAA reported 44 million people traveled to vacation spots over the three-day Memorial Day holiday weekend — the first of the 2024 summer season. Memorial Day is now more about personal leisure than public remembrance.

Our flag’s history is inextricably linked to the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” our national anthem, which dates to the War of 1812 against the British.

British forces had sacked our nation’s capital and were about to capture Baltimore. After a 25-hour bombardment of Fort McHenry, the military post protecting Baltimore’s Harbor, British forces failed to penetrate Baltimore’s defenses and withdrew on Sept. 14, 1814.

Francis Scott Key, witnessing the bombardment and seeing a huge 30-by-42-foot American flag, battered and torn, still flying over the garrison, was moved to write the lyrics that became our national anthem.

During World War II, six Marines were photographed planting the U.S. flag at the summit of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima on Feb. 5, 1945. Of the 70,000 Marines going ashore, there were 25,000 casualties, including 7,000 deaths. Today, that flag-planting scene is the Marine Corps Memorial near Arlington National Cemetery.

Unfortunately, it takes attacks on our freedoms and lawlessness to remind us that, as President Ronald Reagan said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.”

We must never forget. Honoring our flag is integral to remembering what we still have in America.


Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and retired president of the Association of Washington Business. He now lives in Vancouver, Washington, and .can be contacted at theBrunells@msn.com.