On flag day, we should address the elephant in the room. Some of these elephants get really upset when our national symbol is publicly burned. They are fools!
When our flag is retired, it should be cremated. Yes – burned; never thrown out like garbage. Sure, its just a piece of cloth but this simple piece of cloth is imbued with solemn meaning and when its life is over, it deserves a hero’s funeral. So, what does that have to do with protesters in the streets burning our flag with the obvious intent of enraging us? Well, a lot!
You see, our flag, unlike most flags (the exceptions being the tricolor of France) doesn’t represent a land so much as a set of institutional beliefs. Our flag is not religious symbol like the flag of Israel, it is not the symbol of a past monarch like the flag of Japan, it is not a symbol of empire and conquest like the flag of the UK, and it is certainly not the symbol of a political movement like the flag of the former Soviet Union. No, the Star-Spangled Banner is a symbol of nation founded on the principle of representative democracy and dissolution of tyranny.
Burning the flag, even in anger, is mourning our temporary abandonment of those ideals. When our country acts as a tyrannical empire, when we fail to appropriately represent ALL of our citizens, when we fail to fail to protect the weak from the overly powerful, when we fail to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”; we should mourn. Flag burners are reminding us to hold steadfast to our course and continue to strive to be the land where we are fit to pass through the “golden door” of the colossus.
Remember this Flag Day that honoring the flag is honoring it in all stages of its existence, from creation to destruction, form raising to lowering, when we are proud, when we mourn, and when we are ashamed. Let’s listen for the opportunities to right our course so there are fewer instances of shame.
 Inscription on Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor
The New Colossus
“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name,
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!”
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”– Emma Lazarus, 1883