A Living Symbol – The American Flag


The 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 don’t 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 visible.

This made me think more about the flag and what it symbolizes.

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 isn’t 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 Spangled Banner.

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, don’t 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 I’ll fold it in the triangular shape anyhow.

If you don’t 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 Veterans’ Day come to mind. However, I am so excited about the new flag that I can’t 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 don’t 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 country’s symbol alive. Fly the American Flag!

©2007 Sheila Moss

About Sheila Moss

My stories are about daily life and the funny things that happen to all of us. My columns have been published in numerous newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and websites.
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3 Responses to A Living Symbol – The American Flag

  1. Neethu says:

    Happy 4 th of July..😊😊💞💞💞

    Liked by 1 person

  2. sniderjerry says:

    Hello Sheila, Great story!

    Goggle Robert G Heft – he is the man who designed the fifty star flag as a school project. He lived in my hometown, Lancaster, Ohio. Happy 4th of July! Jerry

    Liked by 1 person

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