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Jeremy Butler | June 12, 2020

READ: A Day to Celebrate

Flag Day is an incredibly important day for our country. The American flag is a symbol of patriotism, unity and coming together for common good. 

Congress adopted the U.S. Flag on June 14, 1777. It had thirteen stars and stripes. In 1949, President Truman signed an act of Congress designating June 14 of every year as National Flag Day. That year, the flag had 48 stars and 13 stripes. In the years before and since, there have been approximately 25 versions. Just as the design of the flag evolved over America’s history to accommodate the changing shape and size of our country, so too do we as a country need to evolve our view of who deserves the protections and freedoms that it symbolizes.

The backgrounds of those who fought and died for this country are as varied as the men and women who live here today. Black, white, gay, straight, immigrants, Native Americans…they all fought and died to defend the ideals of freedom that America was founded on, that the American flag represents, and that our country must still strive to meet.

We are living in a time of incredible challenges but we also have an incredible opportunity in that much of the country, and even the world, is turning their attention to the fact that many of us live out every day suffering from injustice. And yet we all believe in the power of this country to make life better for ourselves, our families and those around us. That’s why we put on the uniform and why, even after we hang it up, we continue to fight for liberty and justice for all.

That means having uncomfortable conversations about our history, our mistakes, and the reality of our current situation. That means talking about why we believe that the Confederate battle flag is a symbol of division and hate. Why naming American military bases after people who fought against the United States does not make sense. Why we stand with the LGBTQ community to ensure that they too are seen as equal citizens worthy of the rights we all deserve. Why we push for the Department of Veterans Affairs to realize that a motto, no matter how well intentioned, that does not represent the changing nature of our community is actually harmful and counter to the changes that need to be made.

The American flag stands for opportunity. It stands for improvement. It stands for justice. It stands for unity. Today, IAVA celebrates Flag Day by honoring what it stands for but also what it requires of us to truly form a more perfect union. One of IAVA’s guiding principles is “Everyone is Welcome” and that means we renew our commitment to fight for and speak out in defense of EVERY veteran who fought for us. We hope you’ll join us.

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