"Today we celebrate Flag Day, the birthday of our Stars and Stripes. As we think back over the history of our nation’s flag, we remember that the story of its early years was often one of hardship and trials, sometimes a fight for simple survival.
Thinking back to those times, one realizes that our democracy is so strong because it was forged in the fires of adversity. In those dark days of the war, it must have been easy to give in to despair. But our forefathers were motivated by a cause beyond themselves. From the harsh winter of Valley Forge to the blazing night above Fort McHenry, those patriot soldiers were sustained by the ideals of human freedom. Through the hardships and the setbacks, they kept their eyes on that ideal and purpose, just as through the smoke of battle they kept a lookout for the flag. For with the birth of our nation, the cause of human freedom had become forever tied to that flag and its survival.
As the American Republic grew and prospered and new stars were added to the flag, the ideal of freedom grew and prospered. From the rolling hills of Kentucky to the shores of California to the Sea of Tranquility on the Moon, our pioneers carried our flag before them, a symbol of the indomitable spirit of a free people. And let us never forget that in honoring our flag, we honor the American men and women who have courageously fought and died for it over the last 200 years, patriots who set an ideal above any consideration of self. Our flag flies free today because of their sacrifice.
These anniversaries remind us that the great American experiment in freedom and democracy has really just begun. They remind us of the terrible hardships our forefathers willingly endured for their beliefs. And they challenge us to match that greatness of spirit in our own time, and I know we will. We are, after all, the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Radio Address Deilvered June 14, 1986