Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet, you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief; it was loyalty and love....
Duty, Honor, Country...... Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points...to build courage when courage seems to fail....to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith..... to create hope when hope becomes forlorn. ...
The unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant phrase. Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker, and, I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely different character, will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.
But these are some of the things they do. They build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation's defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid.
I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death. They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory. Always for them: Duty, Honor, Country. Always their blood, and sweat, and tears, as we sought the way and the light and the truth.
I was there when my nation was born. I was in the hand of my first President in the blood and snow of Valley Forge. I stand for peace, honor, truth and justice. I stand for freedom. I have earned the right to speak. The right paid for my freedom of speech is a price few remember or can comprehend. Most forget, but I still see in my memory those bright, beautiful young men, who died for me at Pork Chop Hill, Normandy, Iwo Jima, Pearl Harbor, the Coral Sea, Okinawa, Corrigidor, the jungles of Vietnam and in Iraq and Afghanistan. . . . I have fought in every American battle of every war since 1776. . . . and when they died for me, I wrapped them in my love and draped my honor over their caskets.
Those who died for my right to speak in freedom are buried in the Flanders Field of France, the Punchbowl in Hawaii, in Arlington and Gettysburg and in many other places under the sun. I fly proudly over their graves at all of these places, praying than wars might end forever. I rise every morning to watch over the graves of our finest men whose years were short, but whose service was longer than we can ever measure.
Because of those brave American patriots I can fly atop the greatest buildings in the world. I can stand watch in America's halls of justice. I fly majestically over institutions of learning and stand guard as the greatest power in the world. Stand up and see me. I am the most recognized symbol in the universe.
Yes, I am the American flag. More than one million three hundred thousand lives have been sacrificed to give me the right to speak. I have been burned, torn and trampled on the streets of countries I have helped set free. I have been stained, spit upon and defiled by my detractors. Yet there is no place on the face of this earth that knows greater freedom than my country.Freedom to each man, woman and child, to choose his life's work, to travel from state to state without passports, to attempt and succeed, to fail and not be cast in prison for failure.
Freedom to start your own business and become a capitalist, to create dignified job opportunities for people who want to know the pride of working for a living.
Freedom to save and build a fortune you may give away at the end of your life to your family, friends or charity.
Freedom to speak, write, praise, question or criticize anyone, no matter how high his station or rank.
Freedom to worship or not to worship as the mind and heart dictate.
I am proud of the harvest of our land..... corn, wheat, cotton, apples, nuts cherries, oranges and peaches. I see the harvest of our 50 states, and I am proud, for we help feed the hungry of the world.
Be humble and be proud of our greatness. I am particularly humble and proud when I am torn into strips and used as bandages for my wounded comrades on the battlefield. . . or when I am flown at half-mast to honor my soldiers, or when I lie in the trembling arms of a grieving parent at the grave of their fallen son or soldier. We stagger at the eternal debt we owe to the untold number of American Veteran's who chose to set aside their personal ambitions and dreams to assure the well being of our nation.
Yes, be proud and be humble . . . . enough to know where your glory and greatness come from. I am called "Old Glory." My glory is the freedom that I give to every man, woman and child living in America.
I am the world's beacon of hope and liberty. . . . and all I can say is give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
Yes, I am the American Flag. I am your flag. I am the flag of freedom.