The American Flag Still Flies
By John Meng On Jan. 20, 2021, our nation will undergo a transition of presidential power, a process that has been completed peacefully dozens of times throughout our history and it’s an accomplishment that makes the United States of America incredibly unique in the history of the world.
During this transition, the American flag will fly high above the process. While half of Americans will cheer the transition and the other half will be screaming foul, my guess is that very few will be focused on the stark symbolism of the day. Emotions must be reined in to recognize this sacred moment among nations.
Unfortunately, civics is no longer taught in most schools these days and American history curriculum has become somewhat ‘selective’ so I doubt that many of today’s youth know the meaning of our nation’s flag.
Millennials living in their parents’ basements, gamers living on diet soda and Cheetos while mesmerized by the newest video game, and young Generation X’ers more interested in their morning half-caf mocha cookie crumble frappaccinos don’t know the historical importance of the American flag and the blood that has been shed to keep the flag as a symbol of freedom.
On June 14, 1777, to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act which read “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.”
Between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed several acts that changed the shape, design and arrangement of the flag and allowed for additional stars and stripes to be added to reflect the admission of each new state. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well; red symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes purity and innocence, and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.
However, the flag stands for more much that. It stands for uniquely American ideals such as freedom and liberty and that has never changed.
Even praised in our national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the lyrics come from the poem ‘Defense of Fort M'Henry’ written by a 35-year-old lawyer Francis Scott Key who witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships in Baltimore Harbor in the War of 1812. Key was inspired by the large U.S. flag flying triumphantly above the fort during the U.S. victory.
During the bloody Battle of Iwo Jima, six Marines planted the U.S. flag at the summit of Mount Suribachi, the island’s highest peak and most strategic position. The battle for the island was not yet won, but the sight of the American flag atop Suribachi was an inspiration to thousands of Marines still in the fight.
For me and many others, the flag means freedom, sacrifice and honor. People have fought for the flag and they have died for the flag. On many mornings on my way to and from work, I see the first responders at the ESD station in Ganado raising and lowering the flag. They do it slowly with reverence and honor.
And I’m proud that Edna dedicated itself to be ‘Flag City’ in 1968, when the city honored the men risking their lives in a conflict on foreign soil; and knowing the draft card burning and anti-war demonstrations aided and comforted the enemy; the City of Edna condemned un-American activities and showed its support of the United States by flying American flags along city streets.
Next week, when we see another transfer of power, set aside your politics. It doesn’t matter which party won. Remember that the American flag still flies overhead and we must all respect and honor what it stands for. We are all Americans. Today. Tomorrow. For all time. Long may the American flag wave.