When you see the Stars and Stripes displayed, son, stand up and take off your hat. Somebody may titter. It is in the blood of some to deride all expression of noble sentiment. You may blaspheme in the street and stagger drunken in public places, and the bystanders will not pay much attention to you; but if you should get down on your knees and pray to Almighty God, or if you should stand bareheaded while a company of old soldiers marches by with flags to the breeze, some people will think you are showing off.
But don’t you mind! When Old Glory comes along, salute, and let them think what they please! When you hear the band play “The Star-Spangled Banner” while you are in a restaurant or hotel dining room, get up even if you rise alone; stand there and don’t be ashamed of it, either!
For of all the signs and symbols since the world began there is none other so full of meaning as the flag of this country. That piece of red, white and blue bunting means five thousand years of struggle upward. It is the full-grown flower of ages of fighting for liberty. It is the century plant of human hope in bloom.
Your flag stands for humanity, for an equal opportunity to all the sons of men. Of course we haven’t arrived yet at that goal; there are many injustices yet among us, many senseless and cruel customs of the past still clinging to us, but the only hope of righting the wrongs of men lies in the feeling produced in our bosoms by the sight of that flag.
Other flags mean a glorious past, this flag a glorious future. It is not so much the flag of our fathers as it is the flag of our children, and of all children’s children yet unborn. It is the flag of tomorrow. It is the signal of the “Good Time Coming.” It is not the flag of your king—it is the flag of yourself and of all your neighbors.
Don’t be ashamed when your throat chokes and the tears come, as you see it flying from the masts of our ships on all the seas or floating from every Flagstaff of the Republic. You will never have a worthier emotion. Reverence it as you would reverence the signature of the Deity.
Listen, son! The band is playing the national anthem—”The Star-Spangled Banner!” They have let loose Old Glory yonder. Stand up—and others will stand with you.
This tribute to the flag is offered to the country in appeal to all men and women of all races, colors and tongues, that they may come to understand that our flag is the symbol of liberty and learn to love it.