I am a veteran of the United States military. This flag does not belong to me. I have no special claim to it, as much as I respect and do my best to represent it.
I claim for myself only the ideals it represents: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the right to free speech, free press, due process, and freedom of religion, among many others.
I will defend you with my last breath against those who would force you under physical, moral, or financial duress to worship or pay fealty to it, for that is the way of fascists and dictators.
This flag does not belong to the military, nor did it ever. We have only the honor of following it into battle.
We do so knowing that we might die, not for this piece of cloth, but for the idea of a nation that holds its citizens equal to one another and free from oppression and discrimination. If it no longer represents those ideals, then for what do we fight?
The experiment that is this republic only works if this flag belongs to every person under its shadow: past, present, and future.
So, remember the great deeds that have been done and words that have been said by those flawed and sincere individuals who have stood by this flag, so that you can follow in their steps and avoid their pitfalls. Remember the mistakes of the past so that when you look around at citizens of this nation, you can acknowledge them as an integral part of both its failures and its successes.
Look toward the horizon, knowing that the journey does not end and that we are all endlessly creating the legacy that will shape the meaning of this flag. Most importantly, realize that everyone owns this flag, and we all have a duty to live up to its ideals.