The American flag, a symbol of freedom. The flag IS freedom to those who fight for it, to those who die for it, even to those who burn it.
During recent days, we have seen the image of OUR flag a little more than normal. Many of us have seen the double flag-raising photo that has made its way around the world via the Internet – the Iwo Jima flag raising and the flag raising by firefighters in New York City after the World Trade Center attack. Not since the Persian Gulf War has flag sales been as high, with some flag makers working overtime to keep up with the demand.
Newspapers, including hometown papers, have run full-page and color flags for us to proudly display in our windows, and we have.
I remember, as a younger Marine, driving through neighborhoods in my hometown, I would see the flag flying high on June 14 and July 4, but not on Aug 14 (which by the way, is my birthday) or Sep 4. Why do we fly the flag only on holidays?
I’m told by reliable sources, my friends, my co-workers and my boss, that neighborhoods throughout American have the flag proudly displayed and flying high in defiance to the recent terrorist attack against her. But, will this icon remain atop the pole?
Recently, I have seen flag shirts, flag stickers, flag bandanas, flag pins, flag hats (flags on hats of major league baseball players) and yes, flag boxers (not worn by major league baseball players or myself – although, I probably would if my wife bought me a pair). Of course my favorite color is camouflage, but, that is, as they say, is another story.
Well, America, the flag has made a resounding comeback. It’s our symbol; it’s our recognizable emblem that defines us as Americans. That’s right, DEFINES us.
Oh sure, we all know that Betsy Ross designed the flag at the request of General George Washington during the Revolutionary War. But, do we really know or think of the story? The Revolutionary War was the tool to shape America’s freedom.
Now, I’m not trying to take Paul Harvey’s job away, but here it is – the rest of the story (the condensed version).
She was 25 years old and already a widow. Her husband died in the ongoing great revolt. Her days mundane until a general came to her asking assistance for a struggling nation.
With both of them planning and working together, the flag was almost complete. The general suggested the “final touches” be 13 stars (the six-pointed kind) to represent the colonies. In defiance, the widow Ross refused to put six-sided stars on HER flag – a flag that would represent a free nation. You see, those were British stars, and to the British she had lost her beloved husband. Only our current five-sided variety of stars would do. Betsy had her way.
So as you now know the rest of the story, even the flag’s design was out of defiance, and we still fly it today, right now – this very minute, out of defiance. Defiance to anyone who thinks they can touch our spirit or cripple it.
But, contrary to belief, at least the belief of anyone who is not an American, tragedy unites people.
A united people holds true to the little ditty that we all learned when we first entered school – to be "one nation, under God, indivisible" as taught by the "Pledge of Allegiance."
We cannot, through these recent acts of terror, be split in two. We have in fact, become stronger.
I’m sure there will be memorials erected, speeches written and plaques nailed to walls honoring those who gave their "fullest measure" and that’s fine. But the best way to honor those who died – keep the flag flying high – EVERY day of the year.
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