Music and the Spoken Word: ‘The emblem of the land we love’

Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This was previously broadcast and will be given again on May 24, 2020.

The flag of the United States has flown on the earth and the moon, on the home front and the battlefront, in conflict and in peace. Something stirs within us when we see this red, white, and blue “emblem of the land (we) love, the home of the free and the brave” (from “You’re a Grand Old Flag” by George M. Cohan).

For many of us, that stirring is especially deep when we remember those who have died defending what that flag represents. As one unknown patriot wrote, “Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.”

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin Jr. poses for a photograph beside the U.S. flag on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969. (Neil Armstrong/NASA via AP)
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin Jr. poses for a photograph beside the U.S. flag on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969. (Neil Armstrong/NASA via AP) Credit: Neil Armstrong/NASA via Associated Press

Today we honor the heroic men and women throughout history who have defended our nation. Without their sacrifice, the flag would be little more than a colorful piece of fabric. Because of their sacrifice, the flag continues to proclaim to all the world the principles of freedom, equality, liberty and justice for all.

Of course, we all know that no nation is perfect. And yet our love and respect for our country seems to deepen as we work to overcome our shortcomings and mistakes, past and present. What makes any country great is the principles of its founding, its boundless potential, and its constant striving to live up to both.

A veteran carries a U.S. flag during Stadium of Fire at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo Saturday, July 4, 2015.
A veteran carries a U.S. flag during Stadium of Fire at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo Saturday, July 4, 2015. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The same is true of each of us. After all, a country is made up of individuals — all less than perfect and all with great potential. In a sense, each of us is, like our beloved flag, an emblem of this land we love. Our country is only as strong as each individual who serves and sacrifices for its core institutions: for the home and the family, for neighborhoods and communities, for church and state. 

And so this Memorial Day, when we see the flag of freedom wave, let us remember what it represents — not just a land but a people. It waves for the sons and daughters who gave their all. It waves for the promise of liberty they died to protect. It waves for every patriot who has made this country the land we love. We honor their memories, this day and always.

Tuning in …

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160AM/102.7FM, ksl.com, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, Dish and DirectTV, SiriusXM Radio (Ch. 143), the tabernaclechoir.org, youtube.com/TheTabernacleChoiratTempleSquare and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.org/schedules.