When I walked dark foreign streets and unawares came upon the American flag,
a jolt hit me that seeing it on home shores did not.
How tame a sight your country's flag is at home compared to what it is in a foreign land.
To see it is to see a vision of home itself and all its dreams,
and feel a thrill that would stir the sluggish blood of a marble statue.
It represents the Dream the American Fathers had which has now become so tarnished.
But it is the dream, not the reality, which still stirs the heart when seen far from home.
I have always thought protesters wrong to burn the flag.
They should wash it instead, implying the policies and actions against which they bristle
dirty the American Dream so many have died to defend and protect.
The stripes represent the original 13 Colonies
and the stars represent the 50 states of the Union against a blue field representing the new constellation of freedom.
The colors of the flag are symbolic as well:
Red symbolizes hardiness and valor,
White symbolizes purity and innocence,
Blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.
Hardiness, valor, purity, innocence, vigilance, perseverance ... justice.
They can never be attained or achieved ... or not for very long.
It is the struggle to reach them, keep them, and pass them on that must be held sacred.
America will never be what it should be.
It will always fall short in some fashion.
But the Constitution holds the promise that we can do better.
All the lives lost in defense of that promise propel us to make that promise a reality.
That is what we celebrate today.