A Living Symbol Ė
The American Flag
other day I was down at the discount mart and noticed a display of American
flags. The red, white, and blue caught my eye and I stopped to check them out.
"Oh," I thought, "I donít
really need a flag."
I used to have a flag that I displayed on
patriotic holidays. Through the years the flag wore out and was never
replaced. I sort of miss that feeling of patriotic pride that comes
from displaying the flag.
I decided that I needed a flag after all, so I
bought one. It is a beautiful flag with the stars embroidered instead
of printed and the stripes sewn together in different colors.
I took it home and opened it up to look at it.
Then I folded it up to return it to the plastic package.
"Grandma, you folded it wrong!"
exclaimed my 8-year-old grandson.
You know, he was right. There is a special way
to fold the flag in a triangular shape with the only the blue field
This made me think more about the flag, and what
The flag is a symbol of a living nation. As
such, we are to treat the flag as if it is a living thing, according
to flag etiquette. Thinking of it in this way makes it much easier for
me to understand how to regard the flag.
At one time the flag was flown only from dawn to
dusk and not at night. Now, however, it is considered correct to fly
it at night as long it is illuminated. I hope it isnít lonely out
there all by itself. I hope it is brave like the 15 star flag that
flew at night and inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star
There is no official meaning for the colors of
red, white and blue or reason given as to why they were chosen.
Generally, it is thought that white is for purity and innocence, red
for valor, and blue for vigilance, perseverance, and justice. These
seem almost like human qualities, donít they?
We have heard the legend of how Betsy Ross made
the first flag at the request of George Washington, and that it was
she who suggested the five-pointed star. This story is challenged by
scholars, however, who believe it is unlikely.
The flag has one star for each state, and one
stripe for each of the 13 original colonies. The blue area of the flag
is known as the "union." I think the flag probably enjoys
its nickname of "Old Glory."
Way back in 1942 a "Flag Code" was
established by Congress, which is periodically updated and gives the
rules about how to properly display the flag of our country. I found
out it must be folded in the triangular shape only if it is to be
displayed while folded. I think Iíll fold it in the triangular shape
If you donít mind waiting, you can have a flag
that has flown over the Capitol Building for a very reasonable charge.
You only have to contact your Congressman or Senator or visit their
website. I suppose these flags feel very special since they have
represented their county in Washington.
The flag can be flown on any day, but there are
certain days that seem more appropriate to me: Flag Day, Memorial Day,
Independence Day, and Veteransí Day come to mind. However, I am so
excited about the new flag that I canít wait.
The flag is flying at my home now, waving freely
and proudly, as it should. The feeling that comes from displaying the
flag is the same as I remembered. We donít have to wait for a
holiday or a time of national disaster. We can be proud of our country
any time we like.
So, show your colors. Keep our countryís
symbol alive. Fly the American Flag!
Copyright 2007 Sheila Moss