When the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, there was no way of knowing if the new nation would survive.
An army had to be raised to fight the British; the possibility of a strong military leader wresting authority from Congress was a very real danger. When the war was over and independence won, some wanted to offer Gen. George Washington the crown of a king. Fortunately, Washington was an honorable man and squelched the idea. In fact, we submit it is the idea of honor that has allowed the United States to continue as a republic.
Almost a year after the signing, the Continental Congress selected the first Stars and Stripes to symbolize our national values and traditions. Since then, more than a million Americans have died defending the banner's honor. In recent decades, vermin began burning or otherwise desecrating our flag and in 1989 a U.S. Supreme Court majority upheld their right to do so as a form of free speech. Recent polls continue to show that, despite this ruling, over 80 percent of Americans want to see a special law to protect a special flag.
On June 12, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Joint Resolution 54, an amendment to the Constitution protecting Old Glory from physical desecration. As Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., emphasizes, "Passing the amendment to protect the flag emphasizes what's honorable and decent about this country."
In the beginning, the signers of the Declaration pledged to each other "our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor." In the end, many of them lost their lives and fortunes, but not their honor.
On their honor, the founding fathers created a Constitution based on law and not the whims of some tyrant. Over the years, Americans for the most part have honored the idea that no one is above the law or the ballot box. Our flag, more than anything else, symbolizes how Americans have fought and died to protect that principle.
As we mark Independence Day, remember that we remain free because honorable men and women across our 221-year history placed the law above the caprice of power seekers. We can honor their faithfulness by honoring Ä and displaying Ä Old Glory.