Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Let Your Flag Fly

Today is Flag Day here in the US. I had to go online and look it up when my daughter said, "Flag Day? What's that?"

Here's what I found. In 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution adopting the flag. You know, the original Stars and Stripes with the stars in a circle instead of all jammed into off-set rows because they had a lot fewer states to recognize back then. But apparently Flag Day wasn't much of a big deal to most people.

It sounds like throughout the 1800's various towns and communities celebrated the anniversary of the flag's adoption in a variety of ways, but it sounds like it was kind of sporatic. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson was the first one to give it national attention by signing a proclamation that officially made today, June 14, Flag Day. It wasn't until August of 1949 that politicians gave it full attention by passing an Act of Congress to establish it.

But why? What's the big deal about a flag? I thought I'd better look that up, too.
I found some conflicting stuff. I found references to stars representing the 13 original colonies, but also representing the heavens and the Divine intervention that brought our nation into being, as well as the Divine call on the people themselves to be something special. The stripes can represent rays from the sun, beaming down on the land to produce prosperity and enlightenment, or they could have something to do with the Biblical reference to Christ's "stripes", or wounds that rescue us from sin. The red could be a nod to the bloodshed of war, and probably means victory through suffering or hardship while the white is likely purity and freedom. The blue represents the heavens, and maybe justice and perseverance.

Basically, everyone has some opinion as to what the flag stands for, and it's all pretty good stuff. None of the references I found indicated that blue stood for Greed or white meant Dirty Politics while red stripes remind us of our Trillion Dollar National Debt. No, that's not why we fly our flags.

We choose to see the American flag as something better. It is a symbol of our hopes and our dreams, not our failures and our shortcomings. We proudly fly our flags in honor of great men and women who have sacrificed and done noble things, not for those who cheat and steal. The flag stands for military personnel, civilians, lawmakers, homemakers, first responders, the elderly, and school children who all do their part to uphold freedom, equality, kindness, creativity, independence, excellence, and justice for all. Yes, that should be all of us. The flag represents what all of us could be.

So, now I can explain to my daughter what Flag Day is. It is a day we honor this simple piece of fabric as a symbol for some really big ideas. Some great ideas. Sure, maybe we screw up as a nation from time to time, but it doesn't mean we quit trying. Today is a good day to forgive ourselves for past failings and let ourselves think nobler thoughts for tomorrow.

We can do better. We can be better. We can live up to this symbol, this representation of some really awesome stuff. After all, it's our symbol. We made it. It's what we truly want to be.

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