Well, it’s the Fourth of July and another chance to get together with family and friends to celebrate our American heritage. As I did on Memorial Day in May and Flag Day in June, I enjoy this holiday when I see all the Stars and Stripes that my Wayne Township neighbors display on front porches or flag poles.
Summer in America just wouldn’t be right without the fireworks, parades and flags that celebrate Independence Day.
Our United States flag means a lot to me. I see it as a symbol of a nation full of all stripes of folks living together in a place that values both inclusion and diversity. As a people, we don’t always have to agree with one another to get along with one another, or at least to co-exist. Anyway that’s a value that I support and that I think most of us try to work towards.
Flags started out being carried in war. They were called the Colors, and they identified the warriors who carried them. In the smoke and heat of a battle, a soldier could see by the flags who were his comrades and who was the enemy. To me the American flag is an umbrella sheltering many other flags beneath it. There are state flags and city flags-some townships even have flags! Flags are symbols of what we, as groups or as individuals, value and believe in. Like a picture, they can speak a thousand words.
Just last month our country saw a terrible crime committed in South Carolina. Afterward it was found that the young man accused of this crime was pictured on Facebook waving a Confederate flag and, in another photo, burning the U.S. flag. While these pictures were hard for me to see, I kept in mind the idea that the Stars and Stripes is a flag containing many flags. Back in the day there was even a popular flag that symbolized Black Power. This being America, those who flew that flag were free to do so, even though it probably stirred up negative emotions in a lot of people.
I see folks struggling to come to terms with the feelings wrapped up in the Confederate flag. Why? Because any flag carries a lot of meaning. Different flags can mean different things to different people. Some flags, as symbols, can be offensive or even frightening and may better be left out of sight, but I am glad that in America our free speech is protected.
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