The flag is the symbol of the country, the “emblem of the land I love,” in songwriter George M. Cohan’s words, and often a flash point for controversy.
Flag Day has been observed unofficially for more than a century, but it wasn’t until 1949 that Flag Day was designated by law.
In the days leading up to this Flag Day, we asked a number of lawmakers and other members of the Capitol Hill community what Old Glory means to them. Here are their answers:
Molly Cain,assistant superintendent of the House Press Gallery “Each flutter of the United States flag is a heartbeat, a moment and an experience. It’s standing up for the national anthem. It’s singing, ‘God Bless the USA’ in the school choir. It’s the excitement of fireworks. It’s watching the president take the Oath of Office on television. It’s eating barbecue on the Fourth of July. It’s seeing the ball drop in New York City. It’s shaking the hand of a member of the military. And it’s the memories of all Americans on that day in September of 2011.”
Drew Cannon, assistant superintendent of the House Press Gallery
“The American flag is the image of our Constitution. It has survived over two centuries of war and peace not because of luck or good fortune, but because each successive generation was committed to the principles of ’76.”
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) “The love and appreciation for the flag is not a voluntary impulse. It is something that grows on us as opposed to being taught to us, and I think it grows on us when we see the great things that this nation does that no other nation will do, and I can think of moments when the flag waving in the wind almost brought tears to my eyes. … I was in Arrowhead Stadium on the Sunday after 9/11 … I did the prayer on the field before the game opened, and I was sitting up in the stands with my wife and saw this firefighter running up the steps. … You can’t tell people, ‘You must have reverence for the flag, read this book” … it’s something that is involuntary.”
Rep. Bill Flores(R-Texas) “Every time I see the American flag, I think of the devoted sacrifice and unconditional bravery demonstrated by our nation’s military and veterans. Our flag is an enduring symbol whose purpose is to remind us not only of heroes of past generations, but also of those continuing the fight for our freedom. I hold this sacred symbol of America very close to my heart.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.