The American flag: A symbol of perseverance and hope

WASHINGTON, September 5, 2011—The day after the attacks on America, September 12, 2001, we remembered the American flag.  We remembered what it stands for – hope, perseverance, strength, courage and the truly freest country yet to exist.

We remembered that to raise the flag is not arrogant, nor does it mean you agree with ever single action carried out by your government.

It’s not a conservative or liberal thing. It’s an American thing. It says we stand strong.

As we near the tenth anniversary of 9/11, we need to remember to wave our flag. Hoist it high in remembrance of those who died not just that day, but on the many days before and since, in the line of duty as a soldier, a first responder or any other person who has acted selflessly for the cause of freedom.

For them, hoist an American flag.

If you have not forgotten that it was radical Islamists carrying out a self-described Jihad against our country that day and who continue to wage war against our way of life, raise a flag.

We all have indelible images of our flag; Images that stir us because they are reminders that providence has been, and stlll is on our side.  Often in the 11th hour.

Following are a few images that serve to inspire and remind us that we were still standing, and though we may falter, we will not fall: 

Washington Crossing the Delaware – The 1851 oil-on-canvas by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze commemorates Washington and his troops crossing the Delaware River on December 25, 1776 in route to a surprise attack against the Hessian forces at Trenton, New Jersey, which was a decisive victory after many losses.

Raising the flag at Ground Zero and Iwo Jima (Click to enlarge) (Image: File)

Iwo Jima– the historic photo taken February 23, 1945 by Joe Rosenthal of five Marines and a U.S. Navy corpsman raising the flag atop Mount Suribachi in World War II represented perseverance through a bloody fight.

Firemen in the world trade center rubble – Photographer Thomas E. Franklin caught the three heroic rescuers raising the American flag that day among the chaos and rubble where the World Trade Center no longer stood.

We are still standing today as the world’s longest existing republic. We are still one nation under God. Don’t ever believe that a removal of national boundaries, national pride or the hearty U.S.A chants will lead to anything other than poverty and slavery. 

Look across the Atlantic at the European Union for what happens when nation-states give up their patriotism in favor of the collective.

Remember the war of 1812 and Francis Scott Key to understand what the flag means

While early versions of the flag were carried into battle during the Revolutionary War, it was the The Star Spangled Banner - adopted as our national anthem on March 3, 1931 -by Francis Scott Key that solidified our identification with the flag as a symbol of hope, perseverance and thankfulness to God.

Key began writing his poem, printed initially under the title “Defense of Fort McHenry” and sung to the tune: Anacreon in Heaven, as a hostage held by the British during the Battle of Baltimore. The words expressed his relief in the early morning hours of September 14, 1814 when he saw that the flag, commissioned by Fort McHenry commander Maj. George Armistead to be so big that “the British would have no trouble seeing it from a distance”, was still there. 

At 7:00 AM on the morning of September 13, the British bombardment of Baltimore started and lasted 25 hours. Key and the other American hostages watched the battle with great trepidation but knew that as long as the shelling continued, Fort McHenry had not surrendered. 

Long before daylight, a sudden and mysterious silence fell over the harbor. What the hostages did not know was that the British land assault and naval attack on Baltimore had been abandoned as too costly a prize for British officers. 

Waiting in the predawn darkness, Key yearned for the sight that would end his anxiety; the joyous sight of Gen. Armistead’s great flag blowing in the breeze. When at last daylight came and the flag indeed was till there, Key was inspired to write “O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Watch and listen to the nationally treasured Whitney Houston perform the Star Spangled banner back when patriotism and Air Force ‘fly- overs’ were just part of American football games.

Why the shame over our flag?

Ironically, there’s been a backlash against patriotism and the flag in the years since 911. For example:

Ninety-year-old Col. Van T. Barfoot, a veteran of three wars, was told by his townhouse community association in Henrico County, Va. to remove his flagpole or face a legal battle. 

Cody Alicea, 13, of Sacramento, CA was forced by his school to remove a flag attached to his bike in honor of veterans such as his grandfather. Denair Unified School District Superintendent Edward Parraz said that while Cody does have a First Amendment right, with that comes a responsibility. Our Hispanic, you know, kids will, you know, bring their Mexican flags and they’ll display it, and then of course the kids would do the American flag situation, and it does cause kind of a racial tension which we don’t really want,Parraz said. We want them to appreciate the cultures.

John and Claire Miller of Ross, PA volunteered for many years at the information desk in the Carnegie Science Center. Then Science Center officials removed a small desk-top American flag they placed on their work station.  Officials say the issue is not about whether the Millers should be allowed to have a flag on the counter, but rather whether employees adhere to policies.

Claire Miller thinks the flag deserves better treatment. “The flag is a symbol of our nation, it’s not the same category as a potted plant,” she said.

The White House has released guidelines for how government officials at home and abroad should recognize this 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Copies of the internal documents were provided to The New York Times by officials in several agencies involved in planning the anniversary commemorations. The important theme is to show the world how much we realize that 9/11 — the attacks themselves and violent extremism writ large — is not ‘just about us,’ said one official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal White House planning. 

While it is unclear whether or not flying the flag is acceptable or not, to say that 9/11 is ‘not just about us’ reflects the same attitude of those who recently find the flag inappropriate or perhaps disrespectful to other cultures. 

9/11 was and is about us. The flag has always been about us. It is a unifying symbol that should be respected and flown with pride all year long and especially on days that commemorate important moments in our history.

Flying your flag with respect

The first Flag Act on June 14, 1777 established an official flag for a new nation and “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.”

Today, our flag represents all 50 states but remains red, white and blue with stars to represent each state.

Keep these rules of respect in mind as you proudly display the American flag:

  • The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously. 
  • The flag is never allowed to touch the ground or the floor.
  • When hung over a sidewalk on a rope extending from a building to a pole, the union stars are always away from the building.
  • When vertically hung over the center of the street, the flag always has the union stars to the north in an east/west street, and to the east in a north/south street.
  • The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of states or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.
  • The flag should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds but always allowed to fall free.
  • Never fly the flag upside down except as a signal of distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
  • When a flag is faded or torn, follow the proper burn ceremony procedures to dispose of it.

Carla Garrison follows current events with one eye on history and the other on the future.  Her goal is to encourage people to know the truth and use it as a call to personal action.


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Carla Garrison

Carla writes about current issues and events with an aim toward telling the truth, using the writings of great thinkers, dead and living, as well as common sense.

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