Remarks on Signing the Flag Day Proclamation
Good morning. Welcome to the Rose Garden, and thank you for joining us for this observance of Flag Day. As we begin, I want to introduce three children, to my left, to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance: Christopher Williams, an 8-year-old from Ketcham Elementary School; Delilah Johnson, who is also 8, from Ketcham Elementary School; and Sean Mizzer, 10 years old, from Watkins Elementary School. They are now going to lead us in the pledge.
[At this point, the students recited the Pledge of Allegiance. ]
Good job. Let's give them a hand. I thought they did well. Thank you. [Applause]
Thank you. Please be seated. I want to acknowledge the presence of a few of our guests in the audience today, including Mr. James Kenney, the national commander of AMVETS; Mr. Louis Koerber, the president of National Flag Day Foundation; Mr. George Cahill, the president of the National Flag Foundation; and Mrs. Romaine Thomas, who is the principal of Ketcham Elementary School, where two of these children attend school. Thank you all.
On this day in 1777, the Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of our Nation. Throughout our history, this flag has been a potent symbol of America and what it means to be an American. You can hear America's reverence for the flag in our music from our national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," written by Francis Scott Key in 1814, to George M. Cohan's "You're a Grand Old Flag," to John Philip Sousa's magnificent march "The Stars and Stripes Forever," performed best by his very own United States Marine Band.
We owe a great debt to the members of our armed services, who have defended this flag through two centuries now. The United States Army, coincidentally, also celebrates its birthday today. As we honor the Army's 218 years of history, let us also remember the brave Americans who today are defending the United Nations relief operations in Somalia. Their efforts are a reminder to all of us that we are blessed with enormous freedoms in America.
Think of the pledge we have just made, words we have known since childhood, words that come easily to us, so we often recite them without even stopping to think about their true memory. A "republic" is a government of, by, and for the people. "One Nation": From our myriad diversity, from all of our differences, we still have a deeper measure of unity. "Under God": the reminder that self-government is a sacred trust. "Indivisible": Through a tragic civil war we learned the wisdom of President Lincoln's lesson that "a house divided against itself cannot stand." It is not enough for our house to stand, however. We must remember that a house stands strongest when it stands together. "With liberty and justice for all" is a promise that we must strive to make real, not just in our words but in what we do.
These ideas have brought new Americans to our shores from the beginning of our existence. They make our flag a symbol of hope to people all around the world. To those of you here who are recently naturalized citizens, I say, welcome. A few of you even work here, and we're proud to have you. I'm proud to have you on our staff and more proud to be your fellow citizen and to know that all of you feel as deeply about this country as I do.
Since President Truman's time it has been customary for the President to sign a proclamation designating June 14th as Flag Day in the United States. I want to do that now, and then make a presentation.
[At this point, the President signed the proclamation.]
Since we teach citizenship at an early age, I want to ask Christopher Williams to come up here and to accept on behalf of his school, Ketcham Elementary, this flag which flew above the United States Capitol this morning. Christopher, I want you to take this flag, along with your schoolmates, back to your school and honor it. It symbolizes both your rights and your responsibilities as an American. You should be very proud of this.
I'd also like any newly naturalized Americans to stand up. Do we have any new citizens here? Let's give them a hand. Look at them. [Applause] Thank you.
Last night when we had the press party here at The White House, perhaps the most moving encounter I had was a couple came through the line; both of them were born in South America. But they had their little child with them who had just been born in the United States, and the child's T-shirt said "Future President" on it. [Laughter] There you are. Look, there he is right there. Give him a hand, the father of the child. [Applause]
This is a special day. The children remind us of it, and so do our new citizens. Thank you all for coming.
NOTE: The President spoke at 10:36 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. The proclamation is listed in Appendix D at the end of this volume.
William J. Clinton, Remarks on Signing the Flag Day Proclamation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/220331