My dad told me that he always got choked up whenever he saw the flag of the United States. Growing up as the son of immigrants and serving in the Army under this flag during World War II taught him to love our country, even while the rest of his family and 110,000 other persons of Japanese ancestry were interned by the federal government by executive order. After the war, he didn't ask much from the government, he just finished college, went to work, raised a family, and flew the flag.
This story from USFlag.org pretty well sums up how the World War II generation feels about the flag:
My Grandfather was a glider infantryman in WWII, an advisor in Korea, and lost one of his sons, my uncle Gary Edwards, in Vietnam. I worked in his auto repair station during high school and he flew his flag in front daily. One day while I was sweeping the oil dry out of the bays it began to sprinkle rain. He told me to go get the flag and I said "gimme a second." He said, "It is raining, go get the flag NOW." Well I popped off my mouth about how he should cool it, it isn't going to melt or some such typical teenage comment.
My grandfather is the toughest man I've ever met. He explained once that he thought basic training was some sort of country club during WWII, because he was used to hard work anyway, and at home he didn't have indoor toilets or hot running water! And when I said whatever it was that I said to him, he turned deep crimson and I thought, "God save me, he's going to kill me for talking back." Instead tears welled up in his eyes and he squeaked out "You don't understand what this family has paid for the right to fly that flag." Then he turned his back on me and went out and got the flag. I just stood there feeling like the smallest person to ever live. Those words cut me so deep. I wish the entire country could have heard them.