By Senator Mike Crapo
On June 14, 1914, Franklin Lane, then Interior Secretary, delivered an address entitled "The Flag Maker," in honor of Flag Day. Lane relayed a "conversation" that he had with the American flag in his office that morning. Here are excerpts:
'I know you well. You are the man who worked in the swelter of yesterday, straightening out the tangle of that farmer's homestead in Idaho…or helped to clear that patent for a hopeful inventor in New York, or pushed the opening of that new ditch in Colorado, or made that mine in Illinois more safe, or brought relief to the old soldier in Wyoming…'
'Yesterday the Congress spoke a word which will open the door of Alaska; but a mother in Michigan worked from sunrise until far into the night, to give her boy an education. She, too, is making the Flag.
'Yesterday we made a new law to prevent financial panics, and yesterday, maybe a schoolteacher in Ohio taught his first letters to a boy who will one day write a song that will give cheer to the millions of our race…'
'But,' I said impatiently, 'these people were only working!'
Then came a great shout from the Flag:
'The work that we do is the making of the Flag. 'I am not the Flag; not at all. I am but its shadow.'
'I am whatever you make me, nothing more.'
'I am your belief in yourself, your dream of what a people may become.'
'I live a changing life, a life of moods and passions, of heartbreaks and tired muscles.'
'Sometimes I am strong with pride, when men do an honest work, fitting the rails together truly.'
'Sometimes I droop, for then purpose has gone from me, and cynically I play the coward.'
'But always, I am all that you hope to be, and have the courage to try for.'
'I am song and fear, struggle and panic, and ennobling hope.'
'I am the Constitution and the courts, statutes and state-maker, soldier and dreadnaught, drayman and sweep, cook, counselor and clerk.'
'I am the battle of yesterday and the mistake of tomorrow.'
'I am the clutch of an idea and the reasoned purpose of resolution.'
'I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself, the pictured suggestion of that big thing which makes this nation. My stars and my stripes…are bright with cheer, brilliant with courage, firm with faith, because you have made them so out of your hearts; for you are the makers of the Flag, and it is well that you glory in the making.'
On Flag Day 2007, these 93-year-old sentiments ring surprisingly true. As our great nation wrestles with issues like war, immigration and prosperity, we should remember we are all "Flag Makers," giving meaning and strength to the great nation represented by Old Glory . We love our country; most of us would die for her. This is what inspires immigrants to leave their countries for our shores and what inspires passionate debate about how best to handle immigration. It motivates men and women every day to swear to protect the United States-with their very lives, if required.
The daily toils, hopes and dreams of millions of Americans living and passed is the shape and glory of 13 red and white stripes shielding 50 white stars on a blue field. These are the Stars and Stripes of our United States of America, to whom we and our ancestors having shed former allegiances to countries of birth, gladly, proudly and without hesitation, now bear true faith and allegiance.
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