The Emblem 
of the Land I Love

Sunday,  June 14th, is Flag Day, a day which commemorates the adoption of our flag by the Second Continental Congress in 1777 and  officially adopted by Congress in 1949.  What do you see when you gaze upon “Old Glory?”  Do you see a rectangle with thirteen stripes - seven red and six white?  Do you see a field of blue filled with fifty equilateral white stars, equally spaced in nine aligned rows?   Take a closer look.

Everyone knows there’s the red, white and the blue.   Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia upholsterer came up with idea, or so the history books say.    Some people say that the white represents purity and innocence.  The red denotes hardiness and courage, while others believe the brilliant color represents the blood of Americans shed for our freedom.  Blue, it is often said, stands for perseverance and determination.  

Every school kid knows, or should know, that the thirteen stripes signify the original thirteen American colonies.  They are also taught that the stars represent the fifty states of the United States.  The American flag has gone by many names over the last two hundred and thirty-four years, Old Glory, The Stars and Stripes, and The Star Spangled Banner.

That moniker was made famous by a Maryland lawyer, Francis Scott Key, as he watched from the last gleam of twilight from the British ship, HMS Tonnant, to see that the flag of the beleaguered Fort McHenry  still there during the dawn’s early light.    We all know the first stanza of our national anthem, but how many of you know the last three stanzas?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep, where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes.  What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep, as it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?  Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam in full glory reflected now shines in the stream:  ’Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore that the havoc of war and the battle's confusion? A home and a country should leave us no more! Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave. And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand between their loved home and the war's desolation! Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven rescued land. Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation. Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Within that red, white, and blue rectangle there are more than stars and stripes.  In the starry field of blue, I see the guiding stars of the heavens, leading us through midnight days of strife and tumult.  In those white stars, I see the twinkle in the eyes of a mother who is watching her daughter become the first in her family to graduate from college.  In those bright red stripes, I see the blood of Dublin High teenagers Randall Robertson and James B. Hutchinson on the dying beaches and killing hills  of Iwo Jima.
When you look upon the stripes, you can see the furrows of our farms.   You see the sweat and the grime of the farmer, who worked in the fields six days a week in intolerable conditions, just to feed his family and ours.  

In the stripes of pure white, there is the dedication of the nurses, the angels on Earth, who stand by our side day and night, comforting our fears and easing our pains.  

The blue reminds us of the men and women who stand guard in our streets and neighborhoods, protecting us from the evils of the world, at all hours of the day and all times of our lives. 

Red, a color of anger or power, is also a color of the love we should all share with  one another. That’s what I see in the stripes.  Blue, the calm, cool, comforting color, and a favorite of a lot us, represents the compassion we should bear for those who are hurting.  White, actually the absence of color, reveals the angels.  You know, the people  who come down from the heavens to watch over and guide us and those people living on Earth who come to our  side just when we need them most.  These are the colors of the flag of the United States of America.

In the threads of our flag, I see the delicate  hands of Dublin’s Carolyn Hall, blind since birth, and one of the most proficient knitters in the community, as she spent countless hours making articles for clothing to help win World War II on the home front. 

I see the love of our teachers as they lovingly and methodically mold the minds of our children into noble and productive citizens.

The comforting words and uplifting hands of the men and women of unconditional faith can be found in the stars of the heavens of blue as they praise God from whom all blessing flow to the troubled and the grieving.  Yes, there is heaven in the flag too.  Our forefathers made it that way on purpose.

Between the lines and among the stars, I see those who do good in their lives, every day with no desire of compensation, but seeking only the gratification that they have done the right thing when too many others do the wrong thing or even more regrettably, nothing at all. 

So, not only on Flag Day, but on every day of every year, salute our flag, wave it, fly it.  It  is our grand ol’ flag, the emblem of the land that I love.  I see many visions woven between the stars and stripes.  They are visions of our country and our people.  Finally, I see the flag my father fought for and was willing to die for.  I see my mother, who taught me about the colors red, white and blue and how to count the stars and stripes.  
Oh, say, what can you see?