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Thursday, June 14, 2018

DENNIS PATRICK: FLAG DAY 2018 - CELEBRATING OLD GLORY

            “Old Glory”

            “Stars and Stripes”

            “Star Spangled Banner”

            “The Red, White, and Blue”

            By whatever name you wish to call it, our nation’s flag, when unfurled, stirs enthusiasm in the hearts of all true Americans. Flown on family farms, tree-lined streets, and in public places, our flag speaks volumes about the heritage that forged America.

            In 1776 Congress appointed a committee to consider, and report on, a standard for the troops of all the colonies. Tradition has it that General George Washington, Commander of the Continental Army; Robert Morris, treasurer and financier of the Revolution; and George Ross, a signer of the Declaration of Independence formed the committee that visited Betsy Ross in late May or early June 1776. Mrs. Ross, an upholsterer noted for her fine needlework, was widowed at the age of 24. Her husband John, brother of George Ross, died of wounds received from the British while guarding military supplies on the Delaware River wharves January 20, 1776.

            We know Betsy Ross had previously engaged in flag-making. In the spring of 1776, Congress placed an order on the Treasury in the sum of 14 pounds 12 shillings 2 pence to pay for flags purchased for the fleet on the Delaware River.

            With a rough design by the committee and revised in her parlor, Mrs. Ross completed one copy of the proposed flag. Sometime later the flag was presented to Congress and adopted as the national standard.

            On June 14, 1777, Congress adopted the following: “Resolved: That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” Upon adoption by Congress, Betsy Ross was authorized to produce a large quantity of the new flag for distribution by the Continental Congress.

            In the realm of heraldry, the colors and design of our national standard uniquely identify the United States and its citizens. Red represents valor and defiance; white represents purity; blue represents justice. Thirteen stripes represent the thirteen colonies who shook off the yoke of British tyranny. Stripes were added as each new state joined the Union. In 1818, however, Congress voted to restore the flag to the original thirteen stripes and to add a new star on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state.

            June 14 now commemorates the adoption of the United States flag as the national banner, the unifying emblem, the symbol around which we rally. Our national emblem represents the collective experience of the United States of America organized around a set of values, embodied in the Declaration of Independence, and codified in the Constitution. No one is foolish enough to worship the flag as one worships an idol. As a symbol, however, the flag sums up all our attitudes and sentiments about how we obtained and preserved freedom and liberty for the greatest number of citizens. It underscores unity, the very antithesis of anarchy. It is shorthand for: “I Love America -- what it was, what it is, what it can be!”

            Simply put, Old Glory evokes a spirit of old fashion patriotism where patriotism is love and devotion to one’s country. The “love” part comes easy. The “devotion” part is a bit more difficult. Devotion requires effort beyond the mere mouthing of words of adoration. Devotion implies action born of commitment and conditioned by morals. A person cannot claim the status of “patriot.” A person must show it with integrity. It is around Old Glory that patriots rally when the going gets tough.

            Read the body of literature and poetry accumulated through our history about regard for the flag. The attitude, disposition, and spirit of the people who built this nation becomes clear. Reflect on it and many impressions come to mind.

            Consider those who would lead the charge allowing the cheapening and besmirching of that hallowed and consecrated symbol of our nationhood. They see no reason to protect from desecration our national colors, the very ensign that proclaims our identity as a people. To some in our post-modern age nothing is sacred.

            Some of our congressmen and senators have taken the road less traveled. In a muddled way, they equate vile deeds to free speech. Implicitly, such deeds warrant no consequence. They refuse to protect Old Glory -- the tangible symbol of our intangible values we collectively share. On June 14, as Old Glory floats on high, I wonder how those senators and congressman celebrate Flag Day. I wonder if, had they been in office on June 14, 1777, would they have supported the Congressional resolution adopting the national flag?

            And, if so -- why?

 

Dennis M. Patrick can be contacted at (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  

 

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