Celebrate Flag Day June 14 by honoring Old Glory

June 14, 2013

Today is a day to salute Old Glory, as the American flag is affectionately called. Very often, I used to walk by those waving stripes without giving it a second thought. Sometimes, I would see the red, white and blue in the background of a photograph or a painting. In fact, there is a flag right outside my house. But I had forgotten how much I took it for granted; after all, life is busy, and we seem to always be in a hurry or running late.

However, this Friday, June 14, we will honor one of the most prestigious gifts in our life - the American flag. It is Flag Day. And today, it takes on a more heightened meaning and symbolization as the world around us is fraught with danger and uncertainty. We turn to it for comfort when we most need it, but also we take it for granted.

The roots of this Old Glory that Americans have lived and died for came from the Second Continental Congress in 1777 that approved the design for our national flag. It said, “Resolved that the Flag of the United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.” The current flag dates to 1960 after Hawaii became the 50th state.

Flag Day is not an official holiday; it is at the president’s discretion to officially proclaim the observance. President Wilson issued a presidential proclamation establishing Flag Day as June 14.

I’m old-fashioned when it comes to the flag. We always had a healthy respect in our house for this seemingly simple piece of cloth that summed up a lot in terms of the meaning of our values. Of course, those values can change, mature or just plain falter, but the flag is fundamental to our foundation and roots. We all grew up with it.

Every summer, we would salute the crisp symbol of our democratic fortune as it was carried in parades, flown on porches and placed in cemeteries. We wore it on our sleeves, sewn on as a reminder of what came first in our hearts. It was part of our family, after all. And we were proud of our flag in many ways, especially through our military, since it had been planted in our many battles.

I am often reminded of the poem by Father Dennis O’Brien:

It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech

It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us freedom to demonstrate

It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press

It is the soldier, who salutes the flag

Who serves beneath the flag

And whose coffin is draped by the flag

Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

Let’s not forget the grand old flag that flies over so many buildings, led us into battle and stands guard over so many of our fallen countrymen. This flag for some of us stands for peace, justice, honor, truth and freedom. Proudly enjoy it.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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