A large American flag, worn and grimy, now folded into a neat triangle, is displayed in my office. I'm looking at it as I write this. It's the one that was flying over the Colorado State Capitol on September 11, 2001. State troopers gave it to me when it was retired from service some weeks later. I was serving as Senate Minority Leader. Another flag, similarly folded, is in my study at home, presented to our family by the Secretary of Defense at my father's passing a decade ago, as is done for all veterans. He had served at sea in wartime, like his father before him.
We used to fly the flag on our front porch in Centennial only on national holidays. But we have been flying it continously, day and night (appropriately lighted), except in foul weather, for seven years since September 12, the day following the radical Islamist air attacks on New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.
On 9/11, America was plunged into war against as deadly an enemy as we have faced in our history. We remain at war today not only on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also on a dozen other shadowy fronts, some of them utterly new to us and all the more potentially dangerous for that reason -- above all, the front that is everywhere and nowhere, the struggle to prevent Al Qaeda from detonating a nuclear device somewhere in our homeland.
The flag will continue to fly at our house as long as this war continues. Not because I'm a conservative and like war -- I abhor it -- or because I'm a Christian and our enemies are jihadist Muslims. I fly the flag because the 9/11 attacks represented the first of what those enemies intend as a series of death blows against America's very existence as a free society, a world leader for liberty and a beacon of hope to mankind.
It's one small gesture of defiance to those who seek our destruction. They will not prevail. We will not falter, as President Bush said, and we will not fail. If some call me a flag-waver, I'll take it as a compliment.