According to the dictionary…flags are usually constructed from a piece of cloth, often rectangular flown from a pole, carrying a distinctive design and used as an emblem or for signaling. They represent something––a cause, a country, a coat of arms, etc. One of my earliest childhood experiences was marching in the July 4th parade right after WWII with other kids enthusiastically waving small American flags. At my early age, I didn’t know much about our star spangled banner’s history.
From school lessons, I learned that the thirteen red and white stripes represented the original colonies. Our history books said Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress, made the first flag. It only had thirteen stars because there were only that many colonies in 1777. America was new as a country. As states were added to our union, the field of blue with white stars was reorganized in different patterns until we have our 50 stars today. Two new stars were added to our flag in 1959 when Alaska and Hawaii were officially made states. We still celebrate our nation’s birthday every July 4th.
My favorite part of July 4th parades was always the high school marching bands. Their lively patriotic music along with the American flags interspersed in the parade were exciting. As a little girl I knew there was something special about this annual celebration because of the parade, games, races and special program ending with fireworks in the evening. As I later became a mother, I took my four sons to watch many hometown July 4th parades. Active in Boy Scouts, each of my sons learned to respect and honor our flag. Participating in numerous flag ceremonies, I watched my scout sons filled with pride and respect for our country’s symbol.
It was a special thrill seeing the U.S. flag when we lived in South America or traveled in Europe.
That red, white and blue banner represented home and our heritage. I suppose everyone feels those same feelings about their native country, whatever their nation of origin. While living abroad, I taught conversation classes in English as a Second Language which gave me the opportunity to reflect on the special freedoms, opportunities and responsibilities that being an American have provided for me. I love to fly my nation’s flag outside my home on special occasions and enjoy the opportunity to pledge my allegiance to the flag and the country it represents.