America is rated the most patriotic nation in the world, according to the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. If you were to ask the service members who sacrificed their safety and watched many of their friends lay down their lives what the flag represents and what it means to them, they would probably try to stand or sit up a little taller and tell you it means everything. Here are just a few things veterans and other patriots have had to say throughout America’s rich history about what its flag means to them.
1. Orville “Chick” Miles
Orville was a veteran of World War II and was interviewed about the flag back in 2010 when he was 85 years old. When asked what the flag meant to him personally, he told the interviewee that when he looked at the “stars and stripes,” he could see the faces of two of his lost World War II buddies.
To Orville, the flag represented the sacrifices made for freedom. On a far more personal level to him, this meant the sacrifices of some of his closest friends in combat.
2. Anonymous U.S. Army Veteran
When asked in an interview for the official U.S. military website, an anonymous U.S. Army veteran said: “Our flag is the symbol of the things we as Americans hold in our hearts and minds. The power to guard and protect loved ones, homes, beliefs, and Americans in general; deserving or not. The Stars and Stripes mean this is the United States of America, WE ARE! Having the privilege to serve this country in the U.S. Army gave me the opportunity to show the love I have for this country, and the pride we have in defending it.”
This army veteran shares the sentiments of so many of his comrades. It takes a particular type of person to serve and sacrifice. It takes someone who loves and values the country they serve on a level that goes to their core.
3. George Besa
Flag Day celebrations are held around the United States. These celebrations usually draw many veterans and other American patriots and often include a moment for the veterans to speak.
When asked what the flag meant to him on a Flag Day celebration back in 2013, World War II Navy veteran George Besa said: “I am very patriotic. There’s a good crowd, but the park should be full of people.” To him, the flag meant everything it is to be an American. He was proud to have fought for what it stands for, and he felt every American should feel the same.
4. Don Faulkner
Don Faulkner, a U.S. Navy veteran talked specifically about what the colors of the flag stood for to him in a piece he wrote when he was just a boy. This piece was written years before he ended up serving in the military and was brought back up when he was asked about the meaning behind the flag for him years later.
“Blue stands for the waters around the United States that hold it together like a vise holds two pieces of wood together. White stands for the clouds that fly over the United States so easily without a bump or rough place like the peace of peacetime. And red stands for the fire that consumes intruders that try to turn the handle that holds the United States together.”
5. President Andrew Johnson
Next to the military, the President of the United States is meant to and often does embody everything it means to be an American. During the 1860s when Andrew Johnson was president of this beloved country, he said of the flag and his country, “When I die, I desire no better winding sheet than the Stars and Stripes and no softer pillow than the Constitution of my country.”
To him, there was no better place in the world than America and the Stars and Stripes fully represented the meaning behind that.
6. President Calvin Coolidge
Andrew Johnson was not the only president to speak so highly of his flag and the country it represents. He was well known for restoring the public’s confidence in the White House and for his patriotism.
During his presidency in the early 1920s, Coolidge said of the flag and the duties to the country it represents, “We identify the flag with almost everything we hold dear on earth, peace, security, liberty, our family, our friends, our home. . .But when we look at our flag and behold it emblazoned with all our rights, we must remember that it is equally a symbol of our duties. Every glory that we associate with it is the result of duty done.”
7. Jim Krebs
Jim Krebs was a World War II Army veteran. He served for years in one of the most well-known wars in American history.
When asked in a short documentary on America what he thought about the flag and what it represents years after he had come back home from the war, Jim Krebs made the following remarks:
“The flag to me is as precious as the freedom that the flag stands for. And it’s as precious to me as the thousands of lives that have been lost defending her. It’s that important to me, and it gave me a value of life that I could have never gotten any other way. It gave me a value of my Lord, my family, my friends, loved ones. Especially my country. What more could I ask?”
8. Anonymous Army Veteran
Another anonymous army veteran was quoted about the flag on the U.S. military website saying: “The best way I can describe what the flag means to me is to have every American close their eyes and really listen to Lee Greenwood’s song God Bless the USA.”
The U.S. military website is constantly being updated with new quotes from veterans from all across the nation, and many of them share the same heartbeat when it comes to their flag and their country. They are proud to be Americans, and they are proud they have served to help preserve the freedoms and values it represents.
9. Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was an American president who loved American history and was quite the academic before he became president in 1913. During his time as this country’s leader, he said of the flag and what it means: “The things that the flag stands for were created by the experiences of a great people. Everything that it stands for was written by their lives. The flag is the embodiment, not of sentiment, but of history.”
10. Senator John Kerry
When terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, many Americans were reminded what the flag stands for and what this country means to them. The unity seen across America after this tragic event was a palatable yell at the world that this country could not be taken down and its inhabitants would not be shaken. On the 16th anniversary of 9/11, Senator John Kerry said, “Remember the hours after September 11th when we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland. We drew strength when our firefighters ran upstairs and risked their lives so that others might live; when rescuers rushed into smoke and fire at the Pentagon; when the men and women of Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to save our nation’s Capital; when flags were hanging from front porches all across America, and strangers became friends. It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.”
The flags hung across the nation on this day represented unity, freedom and sacrifice. It was a way to show the world where the citizens of America stood, and that tradition continues to play out today. It screamed that America would always remember and honor the lives lost and the unity those lost lives brought out in the nation.