A flag speaks about patriotism
His words are even more patriotic when his birthplace is considered: Prince Edward Island. At the time, that made him a British citizen (the island is now part of Canada). He became a U.S. citizen when his family moved to California.
After a stint in journalism, Lane entered politics and served in the cabinets of three presidents: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson.
“‘I beg your pardon, Old Glory,’ I said, ‘I am not the President of the United States, nor a member of Congress, nor even a general in the Army. I am only a government clerk’” who was just doing his job.
Replied the flag, “The work that we do is the making of the Flag. I am not the Flag; not at all. I am but its shadow. I am whatever you make me, nothing more.”
Old Glory continued by asserting that “I am your belief in yourself, your dream of what a people may become. I live a changing life….Sometimes, I am strong with pride, when men do an honest work, fitting the rails together truly. Sometimes, I droop, for purpose has gone from me, and cynically I play the coward….
“But always, I am all that you hope to be and have the courage to try for. I am song and fear, struggle and panic, and ennobling hope. I am the day’s work of the weakest man and the largest dream of the most daring.
“I am no more than what you believe me to be and I am all that you believe I can be. I am what you make me; nothing more.”
The theme of Lane’s speech – that the flag is a reflection of what Americans make of themselves – became instantly famous. For years, newspapers and magazines reprinted it, and schoolchildren recited it.
What do you make of the American flag in 2017?