One of my favorite holidays is coming up. Actually, two of my favorite holidays are approaching. My favorite holiday is the Fourth of July and, preceding this date on the calendar, is my second favorite holiday, Flag Day. I realize that many people are unaware or unconcerned with this particular holiday. Flag Day, June 14, is an under-appreciated occasion and, given recent events, I think this is a huge problem.

I can not pinpoint the exact moment in time when people thought that burning an American flag, or any flag, was an acceptable way to protest. Recently, protesters took to the streets outside a Trump rally. One such protester, though it may have been the act or idea of several, burned an American flag. I understand the motive of this action, but I do not think they realize the severity of it.

My own understanding, coupled with some google searches of mine, revealed that people burn flags when they are upset with the political happenings of a country, among other reasons. In a poem by Ruth Apperson Rous titled, “I am the Flag,” she reflects on what the flag symbolizes. The poem, besides giving historical information on the flag, also urges citizens to protect the flag, because in protecting the flag, we protect our freedom and the union of our states.

The flag was created to represent patriotism and loyalty. It expresses the humanity of our nation; a country of liberty and justice. Burning a symbol of our country creates a schism between its citizens and its government. I am not saying those who have burned a flag are disloyal to our country, not at all, but that they are letting their passion send a conflicting message. What good is destroying something that has remained resolute and consistent despite the conflicts, scandals, and terrorism that have surrounded it? Our country is a great power like no other and we have thrived thus far because we pursue unity in our diversity. The flag holds a lot of history as well as a lot of hope for the future of our nation.

We are a republic. Our flag represents our rights as citizens. Many believe they have a right to burn their country’s flag. They may not be wrong: I am not the one to determine whether it is right or wrong. I think lately, though, we have been losing sight of another virtue symbolized by the flag: integrity. We are better than the tantrums we have been throwing. If you do not like something(or someone), try implementing another one of your rights. We owe each other, and our country, a little more respect. The American flag is not meant to touch the ground because it holds us, and I mean everyone in the United States, to a higher standard, as does any flag. It is a reminder of what we can be and how far we have come as a nation.

Hold you and your neighbors to a higher standard; a government reflects the people it governs.

June 14 is Flag Day. Buy some sparklers, light them up and celebrate accordingly, because we have come a long way, but our flag has never left our side.