Our flag carries American ideas, American history and American feelings. It is not a painted rag. It is a whole national history. It is the Constitution. It is the Government. It is the emblem of the sovereignty of the people. It is the NATION.
-Henry Ward Beecher, 1861
From its controversial beginnings, the American flag has been an important part of our culture. It has survived over 200 years and two World Wars. The flag has evolved physically and symbolically in times of crisis and achievement. During the Vietnam War, the flag took on conflicting meanings that split the nation, and by the Gulf War, the flag was again a uniting force. September 11, 2001, the flag became a symbol of hope and pride. Though tattered and dirty flying above the rubble of the World Trade Center, it, like our country would prevail.
Unlike other countries, America only has two national symbols, the bald eagle and the American flag. While the bald eagle is internationally recognized, the American flag is a symbol known worldwide. The flag has been the inspiration for holidays, songs, poems, books, artwork and more. It has been used to show nationalism, rebellion and everything in between. The flag is so important that its history tells the story of America itself.