I am thankful for the freedom with which I have been blessed, by no more than an accident of birth. There are many other places I could have been born, and into such different circumstances. When I was a Spanish teacher, my middle-schoolers completed a unit on the flags of Spanish speaking countries, which brought with it a discussion about the symbolism of colors. We would end the unit with each child designing a flag for his or her own imaginary country. As you can imagine, there were some very creative and unusual choices!
When I reflect on the Red, White, and Blue that symbolizes our nation, it is easy to understand why the same colors have been chosen by so many nations for their national ensign. Color has many associations; these vary dramatically from culture to culture, particularly in the East and West. For many in the West, red symbolizes Courage, and the blood shed for the founding of a nation. White symbolizes not only purity (a bride’s white dress) but also Justice. Blue (as your average Webelo will remind you) is a color symbolizing Loyalty. Apt choices for a flag, and a valuable reminder as to the ideals to which we aspire.
As for fashion, I have never been keen on clothing with our flag emblazoned all over it (especially on the backside of bottoms!), but I defend your right to wear it as an expression of free speech. I would rather we took respectful care of the flags we fly, and properly dispose of them when they are faded and tattered. (And the same for the clothing as well. The ripped and torn flag tee does our national symbol no honor.)
On this day, and all days, let us remember to respect others by treating them with Courage, Justice, and Loyalty, and make ourselves worthy of the title American.