Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Flag Day, 2011

Ten years ago to the day, I walked up and down the hallways of my office building waving two American flags.  My co-workers laughed at me.  Little did I know that a mere three months later, flying the American flag would become the latest trend in the wake of the September 11th attacks.

The Star-Spangled Banner truly is “a grand old flag.”  It has a very handsome design with its 13 alternating red and white stripes, symbolizing the original 13 colonies, and the orderly box of white stars splashed on a blue (for loyalty) background.  Old Glory, as she’s sometimes called, is a stand-out, stand-up-and-cheer flag.

Little children wave miniature flags at parades and carelessly toss them away.  Old gentlemen take off their hats and hold them over their hearts as it passes in review.  It flutters over veterans graves and cemeteries, schools, post offices, fast-food franchises, car dealerships, and office buildings, both private and government.  Since 9/11, America has found a new, and more determined affection for their national emblem; a far cry from the days of the Sixties when, to our horror, protesters burned the flag.

Old Glory is probably the most easily recognized symbol in America.  She’s our standard in war, our symbol in peace, our territorial marker announcing to others that they’ve entered the United States of America, and our reminder of the sacrifices made in the name of freedom and liberty.

An older version of the modern flag flew proudly at the victory of Yorktown, struggled through the Civil War before finally prevailing, went to the aide of our allies in Europe in World War I, flies over the cemetery in Normandy honoring the American soldiers who died defending freedom during World War II, rose famously over Iwo Jima (if you notice in the photo, you don’t see the faces of the soldiers raising the standard; in that way, they came to symbolize all our soldiers, those who perished as well as those who returned to tell us their stories).

She flew from our sailing ships and our jets over Korea and Vietnam, only to return home to a seemingly ungrateful nation.  She went on to fly on the moon and celebrate the Bicentennial.  Then came that terrible day in September 2001.  She reached photographic fame with a photo taken by Thomas Franklin, of the Bergen Record, as three hero firefighters raised her aloft, borrowed from a yacht moored on the Hudson River.  Just like Iwo Jima, the original flag was reclaimed and a second installed when she was requested by the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, heading to war in the Middle East.

Not as many car flags are flying now as they did ten years ago.  But that’s to be expected.  We were in mourning and shock then.  Honoring the dead has always been one of the flag’s sad but honorable duties.  She also has the ability to bring cheer to the heart of anyone with an ounce of love for true freedom and liberty in their veins.

My flag is now mounted aloft on Mount Cabinet, for all to see.  I’ll also be festooning my Facebook page.  Happy Birthday, National Emblem!  You truly are “a grand old flag, a high flying flag and forever in peace may you wave!”

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