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Celebrating Flag Day

June 12, 2018

On June 14, Americans will celebrate the birth of our stars and stripes. Our American flag is a symbol of our nation’s unity, pride, and freedom. As we honor this history on Flag Day, we remember the hardships endured by men and women who have fought to protect our flag’s meaning.

Some historians call the War of 1812 the “Second War of Independence.” Our young republic was again put to the test against British forces. The British had taken the Capitol and set fire to the White House. Their next target was Baltimore.

The British bombardment on Baltimore lasted an excruciating 25 hours. Through the night, rockets painted the night sky and bombs shook the ground. All the while, a young poet named Francis Scott Key was held captive on a British ship. He watched and waited anxiously for any sign that our nation might prevail. Early the next morning, Key saw a tattered Star-Spangled Banner waving in the distance. America had prevailed.

Our flag symbolizes freedom. It waves as a source of inspiration for our troops, pride for our citizens, and a beacon of hope for our future. It’s why we’ve carried our nation’s flag over oceans and deserts in battle and proudly staked our flag on the moon.

Some of the American flags that you’ll see waving on Flag Day were proudly made here in Nebraska.

In 2016, I visited MSA Brand Products, an American textile manufacturer founded in Fairbury. All of their materials were made in America. MSA Brand Products produced American flags that now fly in all 50 states. It was wonderful to meet with a business that took great pride in producing a unified symbol for our nation.

WoodmenLife, a not-for-profit fraternal benefit society founded in Omaha, is one of the largest distributors of American flags aside from the U.S. federal government. Non-profit, civic, and youth organizations, along with churches, schools, and community centers, have received flags from WoodmenLife. Since 1947, more than three million U.S. flags have been presented to nonprofits because of the society’s efforts. Their work to bring the stars and stripes to communities and institutions across the country is commendable. I’m proud to say this all began in Nebraska.

When we honor our flag, we also honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. We recognize the images of the flag-draped coffins arriving to Dover Air Force Base and the folding of the flag and its presentation to grieving mothers and widows. We also remember the times of triumph, as soldiers stood shoulder to shoulder and raised the symbol of an unconquerable American spirit at Iwo Jima.

On Flag Day, I am reminded of Key’s poem, our national anthem. Its closing lines are sewn into the fabric of our nation. It asks a question- and even more- a challenge for future generations to preserve our country: Does the Star-Spangled Banner still wave?

I can say, with great pride in my state and my country, that because of the sacrifice of men and women who have fought and died, our flag flies strong today.

I hope you’ll join me in celebrating Flag Day.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.