What Does the American Flag Mean to You?

July 4, 2011
Is there a characteristic or quality that unites us as Americans, even in this complex country?

Painting of American Flags hung on buildings along a parade routeFour years ago I wrote a post titled Being “American” on the Fourth of July. I’ve decided to dust it off today in case you haven’t read it yet.

The flag I used with that post was a photograph of one of the flags that fly overĀ  Fort McHenry National Monument where the battle for Baltimore was fought in 1814, and where Francis Scott Key penned the words that became our national anthem.

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

What did the flag mean to people in 1814? Would any of them have thought that in 1916 a painter, Childe Hassam, would paint this parade route, or that in 1960 the 50th star would be added to represent Hawaii, a place the colonists didn’t even know existed?

In any case, the focus of the post I wrote on July 4, 2007, was to encourage you to think more about what it means to you to be an American. And today, if you think about it for awhile, what would you say the American flag means to you?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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