Capitol Hill Update from State Representative David Byrd: Flag Day Speech


   Saturday, June 13, we celebrated Flag Day at Walnut Grove Volunteer Fire Hall. Below is the speech that I gave.

   “Good afternoon! Thank you so much for inviting me to speak to you today. It’s a privilege to honor our American flag — the red, white, and blue.

   For a moment, travel back in time with me to the year 1814. Just 33 years after the defeat of Cornwallis at Yorktown, the British were back on American soil with an army and navy fresh from the defeat of Napoleon.

   These young Americans had been attempting to repay the French for their great assistance in trapping Cornwallis on the Virginia peninsula and forcing an end to the War for Independence.  After their own botched attempt at a democracy, the French had once again devolved into despotism, only to see it smashed by the British. And now, it was time for payback.

   The British navy had deposited 5,000 experienced regulars who had marched through and burned the nation’s capital on August 24th. They set their sights on Baltimore in an attempt to split the young nation in half and interrupt trade up and down the east coast.

   Further south, another fleet was sailing toward the Mississippi River to stop commerce coming down the Missouri, Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

   In order to accomplish their mission, the British fleet needed to destroy Fort McHenry to complete the pincer move underway from the forces advancing out of Washington, D.C.

   The American armies halted the advance of this force, but Fort McHenry was still at great risk.  The British warships advanced in the bay as far they could and began firing at the fort and its 1,000 armed inhabitants.

   Newly invented artillery shells were hurled all night at the fort, but the bombardment could not destroy the well-built embankments. When the sun rose the next morning and the smoke cleared, the Fort raised a new thirty foot by forty-two foot flag that you can still see in the Smithsonian.  It’s an awe-inspiring sight.

   A Baltimore lawyer on board one of the British warships also thought it was awe-inspiring, so much so that he wrote four verses later set to music. We know that song as our national anthem. 

   You see, raising that flag gave hope to all who could see it and let the British know that this young republic would not go away without a fight.

   As the British army attempting to travel up the Mississippi River, saw that flag too on the morning of January 8, 1815. That’s the day that Tennessee son Andrew Jackson led a ragtag force against the advancing army and littered the swamps and bayous of Louisiana with the dead and dying. 

   The raising of this same flag at Mount Suribachi on the island Iwo Jima is burned into our memory and a memorial placed near one of the gates into Arlington National Cemetery. And who can forget this same flag placed on top of the rubble of the World Trade Centers in 2001?

   And so it is today. The flag of the United States of America continues to symbolize the moral fortitude, resolve, strength, and hope for all who believe in freedom and democratic values.

   Whenever I look at our beloved flag, I am always amazed by the foresight our historic forefathers had in establishing a government that has stood the test of time and the bravery of so many souls who have fought to defend our country.

   On this National Holiday, let us remember our veterans, military, first responders, and all family members who have fought and are continuing to fight to protect our special way of life. Every day they answer the call of duty to protect our lives. We owe them a great debt of gratitude.

   In the Tennessee General Assembly, we start every committee meeting and floor session by saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. It is a great reminder for us all as to why we are in the State House – to ensure liberty and justice for all.

   I have always respected our flag and appreciated the unwavering service from our veterans. Since becoming a state representative, I have attended Memorial Day and Veterans Day programs, bridge and highway dedications, flag lowering ceremonies, and many other events in which I see our veterans and their contributions to our community. In doing so, I now have a deeper respect and appreciation for veterans and our beloved flag.

   There is no doubt that our country, symbolized by our glorious flag, would not be a beacon of freedom and democracy today without the foresight of our Founding Fathers and the unwavering patriotism of every generation that has come before us.

   Our state and country were born in battle. It has survived and prospered because Americans have always been willing to defend the ideals and principles that make the United States of America the greatest country in the world.

   In closing, I would like to read The American’s Creed by William Tyler Page.

   ‘I believe in the United States of America as a Government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign nation of many sovereign states; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

   I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it; to support its Constitution; to obey its laws; to respect its flag; and to defend it against all enemies.’

   Thank you for attending. Thank you for allowing me to speak, and thank you for allowing me to serve as your State Representative. May God bless you, our community, our state, and may God bless the United States of America!”

   As always, I am truly humbled and honored to be your voice on Capitol Hill. If there is ever any issue I can assist with, please reach out to my office by calling 615-741-2190 or emailing me at I look forward to hearing your thoughts, ideas, concerns, and suggestions during the second half of the 111th General Assembly.