Oh, Say, Americans, Can’t You See?

Oh, Say, Americans, Can’t You See?

One of the American flag’s proudest moments was when, in “the dawn’s early light,” its “broad stripes and bright stars…were so gallantly streaming” such that it inspired our National Anthem.

On the current Flag Day, the question is this: Does “that star-spangled banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave”?

Sometimes in 2022 it seems that we only notice our flag if it is flying at half-staff after yet another American tragedy or death. Or, we hear about it when the flag is disrespected by protesters or misappropriated by rioters. Other than that, and perhaps because of that, it has seemed difficult to observe in recent times, like Francis Scott Key famously did in 1814, that “our flag was still there.”

Red, White, and Blue

Principle Based Politics believes our flag does remain an important national symbol. Its three colors symbolize American values: (Red) hardness and valor, including the willingness to sacrifice our blood for the country; (White) purity, including independence from other countries; (Blue) vigilance, perseverance, and justice.*

*No, the flag’s red does not stand for the Republican Party, the blue does not stand for the Democrats, and the white most certainly does not stand for White Nationalism, as disgraceful internet evil might lead some to believe.

As we all learned in school, the 50 stars also represent our states, and the 13 stripes represent the America colonies that joined together to become a union. It should not be lost on history that the original “Old Glory” displayed only 13 stars, of course, and they were arranged in a circle to show that they were separate, yet unified and unbreakable.

Beyond that symbolism, can we not all still see that our flag continues to represent “one nation, under God” that stands for ideals? These are principles—such as freedom, protecting the vulnerable, honesty, peace, and the dignity of all.

This blog remains proud of those principles. We all should fight to preserve them. For this nation to remain the land of the free, for example, we must choose leaders who by words and actions honor the principle of freedom. For the United States to remain the home of the brave, we all must act bravely. And we should insist that our elected leaders manifest these values. Americans must demand that our federal government follow us as the citizens lead the way.

Ten Proudest Moments

This concluding section is just for holiday fun. In addition to the “still there” flag witnessed by Key at Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor on that famous morning amidst the War of 1812, there are many, many other instances of our national colors being proudly raised, displayed, or unfurled in America. Our favorites are as follows:

10.  Flying over World Trade Center rubble and highway overpasses after 9/11

9.  Covering an entire football field under a jet flyover

8.  In the front of the boat in the painting Washington Crossing the Delaware

7.  Snatched by baseball outfielder Rick Monday from would-be flag burners in 1976

6.  Hoisted in 1898 by Col. Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders at San Juan Hill

5.  Draped over President John F. Kennedy’s coffin (your blogger’s earliest memory)

4.  Wrapped around victorious U.S. athletes or unfurled as they stand on the Olympic podium

3.  Planted on the moon in 1969 by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin

2.  Proudly raised by U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima, 1945

 1.  Presented to brave American families at military funerals

Written by Quentin R. Wittrock, founder of Principle Based Politics. 

Look for his posts each week, as this blog will explore and promote the idea of principle in politics, both as to individual elected leaders and our federal government as an institution.

1 Comment
  • Catharine Ann Pridham
    Posted at 04:52h, 04 February Reply

    Each time I stand in the presence of the United States Flag everyone there becomes united in one state of awareness. This is a feeling we all should experience as our banner is a symbol of unity and equality for all. This is a moment when all citizens must agree that each person represents true responsibility that our Flag and Constitution be protected by the people; all of us! The Pledge of Allegiance repeats this promise to be maintained by all Americans. This is what creates the feelings of unity among those taking part. Warmth, unity, and a ‘oneness’ are some indicators that one attends in heart and holds the willingness to step forward and speak out in defense of justice for all. Cathy Pridham

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