Terrance Gainer,Senate Sergeant-at-Arms “Certain sounds and sights stir needed emotions for me. The flap and snap of our American flag in a strong breeze with the visual of its rolling fabric and striking colors bright against a bright morning sky sharpen a profound sense of duty, honor and country in me. The great American symbol of our flag flying is at the same time calming, offering a bit of peace, continuity and purpose. The folded flag solemnly passed with gratitude to the survivor of a silenced sentinel breaks my aching heart.”
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) “To me, the flag represents a sense of place and the values I learned growing up. As a first-generation American, I learned firsthand the value of freedom and that effort pays off in this country. My father emigrated from Mexico. I grew up in a bilingual neighborhood. We spoke Spanish first. My father always told me the flag represents all of us. He had faith in the fairness of his new home, and he was right. Our flag, like our country, belongs to us all. Regardless of money, race, gender, country of origin, age — the flag represents the entire nation, our love for this country and the paths we each took to get here. It represents the essence of being American.”
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton(D-D.C.) “Flags, like all great symbols, usually have an understood meaning. Not our flag. Ever since the 13 stars made room for more, ever since immigrants of every background came, ever since the first slaves arrived, the flag has sent a variety of messages. In the end, though, the flag has signaled to all that harmony will come with full democratic acceptance. The Americans of the nation’s capital, who live in plain sight of the citadel of democracy, continue their struggle for democracy and equality, knowing it must come, as it has for others who live under the American flag.”
Rep. Dave Reichert(R-Wash.) “I am always mindful that for every stitch in the flag waving against today’s June sky, there has been an identical flag draped over the casket of a soldier or a law enforcement officer — someone who gave their life so that fellow citizens could live freely and safely. For me, the American flag represents my pride in the United States of America and the sacrifices of thousands of men and women who fought and continue to fight to preserve our freedom and liberty. Those Americans put their lives on the line with honor, the flag is their symbol.”
Rep. Mike Thompson(D-Calif.) Throughout my district, American flags are proudly displayed on homes, businesses and in town squares. Wherever a flag is flown, it is a symbol of the freedoms men and women throughout our history have marched, fought and died to secure. It was flown on the beach in Normandy. It was raised over Iwo Jima. It was carried over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. It has draped the coffins of countless heroes who have fallen overseas. Not only does the flag represent our history, it represents our nation’s highest ideals — freedom, liberty and opportunity.”
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.