Mr. Speaker, today, we honor the most recognizable symbol of our democracy: the United States flag. On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress officially established a flag for the fledgling nation, decreeing ‘‘that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.’’

Throughout our nation’s history, ‘‘Old Glory’’ has been an ever-present emblem of America. It billowed in the wind outside of Independence Hall as the Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution. It inspired the young poet Francis Scott Key in Baltimore Harbor in 1814, who penned the words of our national anthem after watching Fort McHenry withstand a British siege.

It traveled west with the Lewis and Clark expedition and eventually with the pioneers as America expanded from sea to shining sea. It was raised high above Mount Suribachi by the Marines on Iwo Jima during World War II. 

It has flown at the North Pole, at the summit of Mount Everest, and on the moon. Both in good times and in bad, the Star Spangled Banner has always yet waved for the American people. Olympic champions held the flag above their heads in triumph, and first-responders have comforted victims of tragedies in its shadow.

Our students pledge their allegiance to it each morning, and soldiers and peace officers salute it as they lay their fallen comrades to rest. It continues to remind us of our past, present, and future, flying permanently over the village green of Lexington, Massachusetts, the White House, and all United States customs ports of entry.

Above all, the flag is an embodiment of our identity. Today, the fifty stars in the sea of blue are a visual reminder of our national motto: e pluribus unum. Out of many states came one united nation, and fifty stars, thirteen stripes, and a sea of blue together form a vital component of our one national flag.

Mr. Speaker, all Americans should cherish and respect the flag. Old Glory honors the sacrifice of American men and women who died for the country, guides us to make tough decisions today, and inspires future generations to dream big. Thus, the Stars and Stripes will forever proudly fly over the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And that is just the way it is.