We make a lot of fuss about our flag. It is just some colored cloth sewn together. It is said that Betsy Ross sewed the first flag, but there is some controversy as to who really designed our “stars and stripes.” When we decided that we were a country, then we needed a flag. Every country has a flag.
Flags started out as simple colors with horizontal and vertical stripes. The simplest flag is a solid white one. It means peace or surrender. The Japanese flag is just white with a red ball in the center. It represents the sun. People attach meaning to the colors they choose for their flag — such as red is for valor, blue is for peace, white is for purity and green is for fertility. Each country has its own explanations for the colors in its flag. I think they are mostly superfluous.
Some flags have symbols that people attach meaning to. The Canadian flag has a maple leaf, which represents the abundance of natural resources found there. In our flag, the 13 stripes represent the original 13 colonies. The stars represent the number of states. I wonder if the original designers ever thought about how many more stars we would add?
Our flag has become a very important symbol of who we are. Our national anthem is based on our flag: “The Star-Spangled Banner.” In many of our formal meetings we “pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.”
For those who have served our country and are put to rest, a flag is placed across their casket and then presented to a family member to cherish as a thank you for their loved ones service. We fly the flag at half-staff out of respect for some person or persons who have passed away. A flag that is flown upside down is a distress signal.
We handle our flag in special ways. There are times when we salute the flag, times when we remove our hats and place our right hand over our hearts. We never let the flag touch the ground. When an American flag becomes torn and tattered, the proper way to destroy it is to burn it — respectfully — not like some who set fire to our flag and stomp it to show disrespect toward our country.
I think we attach more symbolism to our flag, which is an inanimate object, than anything else I can think of.