By Erica Crabb
Published on June 14, 2018

Originally published by the Deseret News.

Sept. 11, 2001.

I don’t have to say much more for Americans to feel something.

That day in history changed the United States. Whether we were directly affected by the tragic events on that day or if we learned about it while sitting silently in history class (as I did), we realized America is not impenetrable.

However, it was from the rubble of the Twin Towers that three firefighters raised a beacon of hope: Old Glory. This raising of the flag evoked other patriotic and symbolic flag raisings, like Iwo Jima. In this moment of anguish, the flag stood resolute and our nation came together as one. This is just one example of how the United States flag has given hope to the hopeless and brought about light in the darkness. The flag is raised in revolutionary moments as well as in the most difficult times to unite us as a nation.

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Every year on June 14, the United States celebrates Flag Day, which offers an important opportunity to become educated on the history of the flag and what it was created to represent.

The United States flag was adopted in 1777. The design is meaningful and symbolic: The 13 stripes represent the original colonies, where 56 chosen leaders declared this nation’s independence on behalf of the thousands of brave women and men who labored, fought and died heroically pioneering the founding of this nation. The 50 stars on the flag represent each unique state. The colors: red for valor, white for innocence, and blue for justice.

For over 200 years the flag has stood as a reminder of the lives of our Founding Fathers and the deaths of countless brave men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms.

I stand for the flag to celebrate how the United States has triumphed over our challenges. I stand for the flag to be united with my fellow Americans. I stand for the flag to show my gratitude to this country and its predecessors.

It was Ronald Reagan who said in his Flag Day proclamation, “When we honor our flag we honor what we stand for as a Nation — freedom, equality, justice and hope.”

Our nation’s history isn’t perfect, and we still have much to improve, but as we remember what the flag stands for, we can move forward with the determination (the same determination that motivated our Founding Fathers) to create positive change by getting involved in communities and developing civil dialogue with community, state and national leaders.

When the flag rises, we are reminded that we should too. It represents something much bigger than us.

As I reflect on events in history such as the flag-raising on Sept. 11, 2001, the words of the national anthem take on new meaning: “’Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh, long may it wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

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