April 25, 2014

Symbolism of flag recalls sacrifices for freedom

Mica Marriott

mmarriott@gardnernews.com

George Washington went to Episcopal Christ Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with a man named John Ross. Ross and his wife, Betsy had just started their own upholstery business and were accomplished seamstresses.

John and Betsy married in 1773, and two years later the war for independence erupted. John Ross was a member of the local militia and as duty called, he was killed by an explosion of gunpowder while guarding munitions near the Delaware River. Betsy became a young widow at the age of 24.

Betsy Ross continued to run the upholstery business, making extra income by mending uniforms and making tents and blankets for the Continental army.
Betsy Ross reported in May of 1776, she had sewn the first American flag.
More than a year later it was made official.

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act for the new nation, “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

Setting eyes upon the American Flag reminds Americans of many things, including freedom, life, liberty, and pride. This sheet of cloth demands respect once it rises and flies in the wind. The American flag is a constant symbol of America’s strength and remarkable history.

In time of war, POWs and veterans have gazed upon those red and white stripes, which are garnished with bright stars and those soldiers have cried tears of joy and knelt with relief in its waving shadow. The American Flag in many situations stands for a glory which can not be fully explained by our mortal tongues, but can be felt deep in our souls. This is precisely why a photo taken February 23rd 1945 as troops raised our flag on a little island off the coast of Japan called Iwo Jima is one of the most recognized and famous photographs ever.

When one has served our country, whether they died in battle or passed on many years after a war has ended, a military funeral is customary. The sum of 1776 equals twenty-one, therefore a twenty-one gun salute is performed.

Next, comes the folding of the flag to conclude the ceremony.
The flag is folded twice lengthwise, then eleven times in a triangular fashion starting from the striped edge and ending with the stars facing up. Each fold symbolizes a certain ideal.

The first fold is a symbol of life.

The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing the ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense and protection of the country and to attain peace throughout the world.

The fourth fold represents humans’ weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him that they turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.

The fifth fold is a tribute to America, for in the words of the Patriot Stephen Decatur, “Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.”

The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that “we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States Of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”

The seventh fold is a tribute to U.S. Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies foreign or domestic, whether they are found within or out of the boundaries of our republic.

The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.

The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood and mothers, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty, and devotion which the character of all Americans has been molded.

The 10th fold is a tribute to the father; for he too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.
The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews’ eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The 12th  fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the Christians’ eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.

The 13th and final fold with the stars on top remind us of our nation’s motto, “In God We Trust.”

When the flag is completely folded and tucked it has the appearance of a cocked hat. This structure serves as a reminder to Americans of the sacrifices made by the soldiers who served under Gen. George Washington, and also the sailors and Marines who served under Capt. John Paul Jones during the Revolutionary War, preserving for all the rights, privileges and freedoms Americans still enjoy 234 years later.

The colors, stars, and stripes of the American Flag consist of 13 horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with six white. The stripes symbolize the original 13 colonies, and the stars represent the 50 of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic also. Red stands for hardiness and valor. White symbolizes purity and innocence, and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.

Reflect this coming Veterans Day on the many horrific and humble sacrifices which have been made for you as an American. Every U.S. citizen should be taught what the Bataan Death March was, what “Remember the Alamo” means, what D-Day is, what trench warfare is, and still today there are more than 2,500 soldiers missing in action in Vietnam.

Our freedom was accomplished through the blood, sweat, and tears of our ancestors and servicemen.

It is because of those individuals who have fought and lost their lives before us that we can, with freedom, raise our flag today with pride and honor.

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