The U.S. soccer statement could have added that men have fought for the flag, and not just in the sense of fighting under it as members of the U.S. armed services. Our troops have literally fought for the flag, for its physical advance and preservation. This is the story of color sergeants during the Civil War.

Color sergeants carried the flag —typically, both the U.S. flag and the regimental flag — into battle, and not a weapon. They depended for protection on the color guard, a small contingent of troops dedicated to the task. The flag, held aloft and leading the way, was important as a matter of tactics (to mark the location of the unit in the confusion of battle), of morale (to provide a rallying point for the troops), and of devotion and honor (to lose the flag to the enemy was a deep disgrace).