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The following is a speech delivered by Delta High School student Brody Chase. 

                  Good morning Delta High School. With all the recent controversy surrounding standing for the flag and protesting the flag, I decided to speak on the reasons why we stand for the flag. I was speaking with an individual with a different set of views than I have, and this topic came up. They couldn’t quite grasp why the nation cared if some NFL players kneeled in protest for the flag. I remember reading an article about a week before. Jane Hampton Cook, George W. Bush’s former White House webmaster and author of “America’s Star-Spangled Story,” wrote an article on five reasons we stand for the flag. I am going to read you her five points, and then put them into my own words.           

The first one is: We stand for the flag not to focus on what divides us but on what unites us, which is being an American. Everyone who lives in this country, like it or not, is American. And because of this, we all need to act like it. In his farewell address, George Washington said, “The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles.” Deep down inside, we all want the same thing. Equality, to have our freedoms upheld, and many other topics that are so highly debated in America today. America is nothing without the principles it was founded on, and the flag represents those principles. We have seen what being divided can lead to in this country: A civil war, a war which the most Americans lost their lives out of any other war. During this civil war, a man by the name of Abraham Lincoln coined the famous phrase, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Our flag is not a symbol of division. It doesn’t prefer one group in this country, and our flag doesn’t worship one religion. It doesn’t affiliate with any political parties, and it doesn’t discriminate. Our flag is a symbol of unity and should be viewed and treated as so.

Number two is: We stand for the flag not to pledge allegiance to a president, but to honor the reality that we have an elected president and not a lifetime king. One of the main reasons of the revolution is the oppression we faced from Britain. Thomas Jefferson said, “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.” None of the founding fathers supported having a king, they created a new government that represented all people. Now, let’s face it: no one really enjoys our current president. But, when we stand, it’s not to pledge our lives to serving him. We stand for the fact that we don’t have to serve him. If he wanted to declare war on Britian, he couldn’t do it by himself, whereas a king could very well send his nation to war. If he wanted to take half of Michigan and give it to Indiana, he couldn’t do that, but a king could very well take away land from some states and give it to other states. We have 50 separate states, with 50 separate stars on the flag, but are united as one under a federal government. The flag represents our freedom from a tyrant, and represents our individual freedoms.

3. We stand not because of past or present pain caused by injustice, but to salute the principle of justice. In 1782, congress outlined what the different colors and symbols on the flag represent. “The colors of . . .  those used in the flag of the United States of America. White signifies purity and innocence. Red (signifies) hardiness and valor and blue . . . signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice.” The flag itself is a symbol, and the different colors and symbols each have their own meaning. We do not stand for the flag to show our support past injustice, such as racial discrimination, but rather stand for the fact that we are able to achieve justice. When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous speech titled, “I Have a Dream”, he had a section that, while reading through it, really stuck out to me. “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men—yes, black men as well as white men—would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” He later goes on to state that “justice a reality for all of God’s children.” We know that all men are created equal, the founders thought so too. A majority of them actually despised slavery. They wanted a republic in which all sexes of all races and ethnicities could be 100% equal, and that is what we stand for.

The fourth topic is: We stand for the flag not for our generation but to set an example for the next generation. I cannot stress this enough: if we do not show our respect for our country, then upcoming generations will forget what America is. America is a land of opportunity, a land of equality for all groups of people, and a land founded on the principle that all men are created equal. This country is the best country in the world, and we need to let our future generations know that we have major respect for it, because we have as much as or more freedom than every country in the world, and that is a huge blessing. We must always show our love for the Star-Spangled Banner, and for the pledge, those very things that accompany the flag. If we fail to see the flag through the eyes of those who fought and died for it, we are failing at being a true patriot.

The last reason is, “We stand for the flag today, not to please ourselves but to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.” We don’t stand for the flag and the anthem to make ourselves look patriotic. We stand to remember the more than 1.2 million Americans who have lost their lives for this country, from the era of the Revolutionary War fighting for our independence up to today, fighting terrorists in order to keep America safe. In response to the NFL controversy, John Kelly stated, ““I believe every American, when the national anthem is played, should cover their hearts and think about all the men and women who have been maimed and killed. Every American should stand and think for three lousy minutes." Kneeling for or protesting the flag is simply selfish. Our American flag is not to be used as a protest item, it’s not just a piece of cloth, it’s what we identify as as Americans. Our flag means so much more than many, many citizens see today, and we need to have the utmost respect for it           

This flag that we have flying high on flag poles around the world, that we have draped over caskets when one of our brave soldiers died, and that so many valiant patriots fought to protect, is the most important symbol that America has. Our flag is very sacred and is not to be used as another item to protest with. It’s not to be burned or stepped on in protest. We must stand to remind everyone that we are one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.