But that’s no reason not to take a moment to ponder what others have said about why we celebrate this day:
“In conflict resistless each toil they endur’d, Till their foes shrunk dismay’d from the war’s desolation:
“And pale beamed the Crescent, its splendor obscur’d, By the light of the star-bangled flag of our nation.
“Where each flaming star gleamed a meteor of war, And the turban’d head bowed to the terrible glare.
“Then mixt with the olive the laurel shall wave, And form a bright wreath for the brow of the brave.”
Those lines were penned in 1805, after word reached this country of the victory of our Marines over the Barbary Pirates in North Africa.
The poem’s author, a highly successful Baltimore lawyer, put his pen back to work nine years later after witnessing the unsuccessful British bombardment of a fort in Baltimore harbor, and it is the later poem, “The Defence of Fort McHenry,” set to the tune of a popular English drinking song, that is Francis Scott Key’s best-remembered effort — and today is known as “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“Sure I wave the American flag. Do you know a better flag to wave? Sure I love my country with all her faults. I’m not ashamed of that, never have been, never will be.”
— John Wayne
“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children (America), the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.”
— Ronald Reagan
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
— Abraham Lincoln
“Love your neighbor as yourself and your country more than yourself.”
— Thomas Jefferson
“We are either a United people, or we are not. If the former, let us, in all matters of general concern act as a nation, which have national objects to promote, and a national character to support. If we are not, let us no longer act a farce by pretending to it.”
— George Washington in a letter to James Madison, 1785
“In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, brave, hated, and scorned. When his cause succeeds however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.”
— Mark Twain
“Those who give up essential liberties for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
— Benjamin Franklin
“She waved from our ships upon the briny foam, And now they’ve about quit waving her back here at home.
In her own good land she’s been abused, She’s been burned, dishonored, denied and refused.
And the government for which she stands, Is scandalized throughout the land.
And she’s getting threadbare and wearing thin, But she’s in good shape for the shape she’s in.
’Cause she’s been through the fire before, And I believe she can take a whole lot more. …”
— “Ragged Old Flag” by Johnny Cash
“It is not the function of government to keep the citizen from error, it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.”
— Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson
“This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.”
— Theodore Roosevelt
“Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it.”
— Mark Twain
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.
“Ev’ry heart beats true ’neath the Red, White and Blue.”
— George M. Cohan
“God Bless America.”
— Irving Berlin
Joe Kirby is Editorial Page Editor of the Marietta Daily Journal and author of “The Lockheed Plant.”