"This flag of ours is the symbol of all that is good about this country. America is an idea. It is an idea lived, and fought for, by a people. We are America, and this is our symbol. We are imperfect in many ways, but we continue to strive toward the ideal our forefathers laid down for us over 225 years ago. I could never imagine desecrating that symbol. Perhaps there are many people in this nation who have never been abroad, or in harms way, and seen the flag upon their return. Those poor souls can never know the deep pride and honor one feels to see it wave, to know that there is still a good ol' USA. With all our faults we are still the greatest nation on earth, and the flag is the most powerful symbol of that greatness. When I was in grade school, we used to say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. It is something I never forgot. I wonder how many children even know that pledge today.
This flag is our history, our dreams, our accomplishments, indelibly expressed in bright red, white, and blue. This flag was carried in our Revolutionary War, although it had many less stars. But it persevered and evolved throughout a war we had no right to believe we could win. But we did, and built a country around it. This flag, tattered and battle worn, waved proudly from the mast, as John Paul Jones showed the enemy what true resolve was. This banner was raised by the hands of brave men on a godforsaken island called Iwo Jima, and became a part of the most famous photo of the 20th Century. Those men are all dead now, but their legacy lives on in the Marine Memorial in Washington, DC. Those of you who have seen it will recall that inscribed within the stone monument are the words — When Uncommon Valor, Was A Common Virtue — I don't believe you'll see the words, "it was easy", anywhere on it. This flag has even been to the moon, planted there for all time by men with a vision, and the courage to see it through."
extracted from Air Force Major Brian Shul's