Today is Flag Day. On this day in 1777, amidst a desperate war for American independence, the delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia adopted the “Stars and Stripes” as the official flag of the newly emerging American nation. According to the adopted resolution: “White signifies Purity and Innocence; Red, Hardiness and Valor; and Blue, Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice.” These colors would be organized into 13 alternating red and white stripes and 13 white stars in a field of blue, symbolizing the unity of the thirteen colonies and the American people’s struggle for their inalienable rights.

Since Betsy Ross legendarily stitched the first banner, the American flag continues to inspire each generation. Throughout the War for Independence, American patriots fought and died under that flag in order to secure their rights and the blessings of liberty that had been so boldly proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. It was the sight of that “star-spangled banner” during the War of 1812 that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the American National Anthem. Today, our service men and women continue to fight and die under “Old Glory” in defense of Americans’ right to self-government.

The idea of human liberty and its political corollary – the principle of self-government, or sovereignty – is not only applicable to Americans. Rather it is a universal principle applicable to all peoples. Thomas Paine famously observed that “the cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind.”
But this cause is contested today both domestically and internationally. Domestically the Progressives reject America’s first principles and constitutional checks and balances.

Abroad, tyrants and terrorists try to extinguish Lady Liberty’s flame. American sovereignty is also increasingly threatened by international institutions that have little respect for the Rule of Law and self-government.

The ideals of America’s founding are timeless. And yet the cause of Freedom is never complete, but requires eternal vigilance. Not only the cloth and colors of the flag must endure, but the liberty it represents must not perish from the earth. In the words of the National Anthem:

O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On this symbolic day, not only Americans, but free people everywhere should pause to ponder the meaning of this red, white, and blue flag.