We will do so with a partial reprint of an editorial first published on July 4, 2012. We select this opinion piece because it highlights the voice of a man who understands America, and its array of freedoms, and what it took — and still takes — to protect, preserve and trumpet those liberties.
He is Brig. Gen. Isaac G. Osborne Jr., assistant adjutant general of the Tennessee National Guard, who spoke to a Cleveland audience on Flag Day — June 14, 2012. The occasion was the annual remembrance of the American flag at the Elks Lodge 1944 ceremony. The longtime military man spoke on many subjects, but his principal theme was the importance of Flag Day commemorations and how parents can keep the spirit of patriotism alive by teaching it to their children.
“Remember, just because our flag has flown for over 200 years does not mean it can’t be devalued or forgotten in a fraction of that time,” Osborne said then. “It’s our job as Americans to preserve, protect and promote it every way we can. Thank you for being up to the job and for helping to celebrate this inspirational symbol of our great country.”
Honoring Old Glory is not — and should not be — a tribute restricted to certain days of the year focused primarily on the red, white and blue. Memorial Day, July Fourth and Flag Day, among other special occasions, can rightly share the occasion with roughly 362 other days of the year.
This was the purpose of Osborne’s message. It is one to which we pay genuine homage. It is one on which we agree.
“My message to you is be proud of this country and its accomplishments, and honor your flag as a symbol of freedom,” the American leader proclaimed. “For those who have gone to war, serve in the military or are a military family, that simple piece of fabric means home, safety and freedom no matter where it flies.”
Those who burn the American flag in defiance, an act Osborne admittedly finds to be despicable, are actually doing so because they are free to express themselves. Freedom is the most endearing of American values. It is the message proudly defended by the flag and those who believe in a free America.
“Today, the three colors of red, white and blue serve to represent a nation filled with racial, religious and political diversity and it remains, as it always will, a testament to the fortitude and vision of our Founding Fathers,” Osborn declared.
His convictions were words well spoken.
His passion for country and those who defend it were emotions well placed.
His reminder of the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform — past, present and future — were thoughts that fill the hearts of millions in this beautiful land of the free and home of the brave.
We urge Americans to remember America on this her glorious birthday.
We encourage Cleveland and Bradley County residents — as they have always done, and probably always will — to lead the way.
Patriotism is not a mindset relegated to a day of the week, a holiday of the month nor a time of the year.
Patriotism is a corner of the heart, one that should never lose its rightful place of endearment amid the distractions of a cluttered and chaotic world where too many children and so very many adults will never truly understand, nor appreciate, the meaning of true freedom.
In spite of our unconditional love for this sovereign land, we will not extoll the perfections of America because she is not a perfect country.
But she is our country and she has given us far more than we can ever give back.
Happy birthday, America!
May you live long, and may your flame of life never be doused.