The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the flag of the United States of America. In light of the debate raging through our nation about showing proper respect to the flag, I thought that I would do a post about the flag itself.
The flag of the United States is known by various names, the most famous of which is “The Star-Spangled Banner. Other names include “Old Glory” and “Stars and Stripes.” Of course, “the American flag” or “the Red, White, and Blue” are always appropriate.
The U.S. flag is not just an ordinary piece of fabric that can be walked on, set on fire, or shown disrespect in other ways. This flag has great importance to most Americans, and it should have great significance to all Americans. For instances the colors –red, white, and blue – have specific meaning. The following quote comes from the book “Our Flag” published in 1989 by the U.S. House of Representatives.
On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress passed a resolution authorizing a committee to devise a seal for the United States of America. This mission, designed to reflect the Founding Fathers’ beliefs, values, and sovereignty of the new Nation, did not become a reality until June 20, 1782. In heraldic devices, such as seals, each element has a specific meaning. Even colors have specific meanings. The colors, red, white, and blue did not have meanings for The Stars and Stripes when it was adopted in 1777. However, the colors in the Great Seal did have specific meanings. Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, reporting to Congress on the Seal, stated:
“The colors of the pales (the vertical stripes) are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice.”
Most Americans know that the fifty stars in the field of blue represent the fifty states in the United States and that one star is added for each new state. The book “Our Flag” states the following about the stars and stripes.
The star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun.
The flag already has great meaning to most Americans, but American citizens can add even more importance by putting the significance of the colors of the flag into our individual lives. Take a minute and ponder the type of nation we would be if we took the “hardiness and valour” of the red, the “purity and innocence” of the white, and the “vigilance, perseverance and justice” of the blue and made those our personal honor code. Then we could add the meaning of the stars and stripes as a symbol of heavenly guidance. If we did this, we would be a nation ready for the return of the Savior, even Jesus Christ.
I decided to write a post on the flag today because I saw a post on Facebook that gave a meaning to each fold in the flag. Before including that post in mine, I decided to check with Snopes to see if the claim was believable. Snopes rated the claim as mixed and gave the following explanation.
Traditional flag etiquette prescribes that before an American flag is stored or presented, its handlers should twice fold it in half lengthwise; then (from the end opposite the blue field) make a triangular fold, continuing to fold it in triangles until the other end is reached. This makes a triangular “pillow” of the flag with only the blue starred field showing on the outside, and it takes thirteen folds to produce: two lengthwise folds and eleven triangular ones.
The American flag isn’t folded in this manner because each of the folds has a special symbolic meaning; the flag is folded this way because it provides a dignified ceremonial touch that distinguishes folding a flag from folding an ordinary object such as a bedsheet, and because it results [in] a visually pleasing, easy-to-handle shape. This thirteen-fold procedure was a common practice long before the creation of a ceremonial assignation of “meaning” to each of the steps.
I personally found the explanation by Snopes as more meaningful than the explanation of the folds – which left out the lengthwise folds altogether. I like the idea that the flag is provided more dignity than a bedsheet. I also like the resulting triangular shape of the flag. In fact, I have one of those flag “pillows” in my home encased in a frame. It was presented to my husband’s mother at the burial of her husband. It was one of the most important parts of my husband’s inheritance from his parents and a very appropriate addition to my patriotic decorations in my home.
I love America, and I love to see the Stars and Stripes flowing in the wind. I also feel great pain when I see or hear of this great flag being shown disrespect. It hurts me as much as an insult to one of my children or grandchildren. I truly hope that the attention, given by President Donald Trump to the disrespect shown to the flag by professional athletes, will lead to the destruction of the practice of “taking a knee” during the national anthem. I understand that all Americans have the freedom of speech and the right to protest unfairness. I do not understand why they have chosen to show disrespect to the flag of their country and their national anthem.