Yesterday, June 14th, was Flag Day, which Adam Goodheart, in an essay about the holiday, calls “the runty stepchild among American national holidays.” Perhaps for some, but definitely not for my family. As has been his longtime custom, my father called me during the morning to offer "Flag Day greetings" and to recite the first and last stanzas of Henry Holcomb Bennett’s 1919 poem, The Flag Goes By:
Along the street there comes
A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums,
A flash of color beneath the sky:
The flag is passing by!
Blue and crimson and white it shines,
Over the steel-tipped, ordered lines.
Hats off! The colors before us fly;
But more than the flag is passing by.
Sea-fights and land-fights, grim and great,
Fought to make and to save the State:
Weary marches and sinking ships;
Cheers of victory on dying lips;
Days of plenty and years of peace;
March of a strong land’s swift increase;
Equal justice, right and law,
Stately honor and reverend awe;
Sign of a nation, great and strong
To ward her people from foreign wrong:
Pride and glory and honor,—all
Live in the colors to stand or fall.
Hats off! Along the street there comes
A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums;
And loyal hearts are beating high:
Hats off! The flag is passing by!
This Friday evening, Temple Emanu-El will celebrate Pride Shabbat. Because this year’s observance falls just a few days before Father’s Day, I commend to you two different, but related articles: the first from this week’s New York Times, and the second, a blog post written by my friend and colleague, Rabbi Victor Appell, who celebrates both Pride Shabbat and Father’s Day together with his family.
This year, as these holidays and celebrations converge in the same week, let us hope that someday soon, we will truly honor the promise of the Pledge of Allegiance with a guarantee of “liberty and justice for all.”