I want to thank the Pike County Historical Society for hosting the National 9/11 Flag stitching ceremony.
One of the truly great patriotic anthems is a popular Johnny Cash song titled the “Ragged Old Flag.” A line in it pays tribute to the endurance of the flag and the nation she symbolizes: “She has been through the fire before, and I believe she can take a whole lot more.”
Across America, there are ragged flags proudly exhibited, recalling battles fought, lives lost, freedoms protected, sacrifices made. When we see such flags, we are reminded and reassured that so many have served, displaying an incredible sense of duty and devotion.
The flag flying over Fort McHenry in Baltimore became immortalized as the Star- Spangled Banner. The flag-raising on Iwo Jima is one of the most inspiring and iconic images in our American experience.
Today we bear witness to living history with the anticipation that the 9/11 Flag will hold similar significance for future generations.
The flag stitching is a beautiful tribute to all who perished, and emotional salve to all who suffered pain, from the terrorist attacks of 9/11. On that terrible and tragic day, terrorists tried to tear apart the economic and political fabric binding our nation together. But our nation, pulling through shock and sorrow, was strengthened, not weakened.
On this day of Lincoln’s birth, we remember his eloquent Second Inaugural Address pointing the path to national reconciliation: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right…” More than a century later, in a powerful message delivered at the death camp of Bergen-Belsen, President Ronald Reagan referenced Abraham Lincoln, summoning as Lincoln did the better angels of our nature.
Those who have a hand in this flag stitching celebration count among our better angels. It is touching to see all the care, the patience, the respect, that go into this work.
We put a premium on preserving history – the parcels of ground where Americans fought and died, the monuments marking their final resting places, the museums that tell their stories, the archives that document their lives. Perhaps most of all, preserving the flags they defended, symbolizing all that is good and just about our nation.
Threading the Lincoln flag into the 9/11 flag ties tragic yet landmark moments, when America had to define itself and find its way anew. Our response to tragedy is to renew our commitment to freedom and justice, to repair our institutions, and to reassert the unity of purpose that guides our democracy. Where Old Glory flies, freedom reigns.
Contact: Jennifer Wilson