The Real Beauty of the American Flag
- The Flag's Physical Beauty
- The Flag's Real Beauty
Mr. President, Board Members, & Fellow Members of Hermann Sons of Texas.
There is simply no comparison in the world!
We all are familiar with the physical layout of the American Flag: 13 horizontal stripes: 7 red & 6 white; in the upper left corner is a blue field, containing 50 white, five-point stars representing the 50 states; the 13 stripes represent the original 13 colonies; white signifies purity and innocence; red signifies hardiness and valor; blue, vigilance, perseverance and justice. Because of its stars, stripes and colors, it is often called the "Star-Spangled Banner", the "Stars and Stripes", the "Red, White and Blue" or "Old Glory".
So, what is our flag's real beauty? I submit to you that the real strength of the flag is reflected in the union of what could well be just a scattering of independent republics. Think of our own dear State of Texas. For ten years, from 1836 until 1845, we Texans lived as a free and sovereign republic; independent of any other government. We still see occasional bumper stickers urging us to "Secede!".
And think of what has been the experience of most of the nations on other continents outside of North America. The South American continent is scattered with independent republics, as is Africa, Asia, the Middle East Region and Europe.
Just how did America do it?
Was it faith, that we never doubted that we could craft a democracy? We believed that we were capable of doing nearly anything. The Europeans find difficulty in unifying their Eurodollar. But then, perhaps their much longer history of over a thousand years complicates the whole notion of unity in whatever form it takes.
Was it divine inspiration? Was it by the hand of God?
Was it the fact that we were brand new creating a new nation?
I believe that our enlightened system, with its checks and balances, is designed to facilitate conflict resolution.
Surely, the price our forefathers paid in war and in peacetime was a major factor.
The Wars: Consider just some of the major wars that have challenged America over its brief 223 year history:
- The Revolutionary War
- The War of 1812
- The War with Mexico
- The Civil War
- The Spanish-American War
- World War I
- World War II
- The Korean War
- The Vietnam War
- The Gulf War
- And numerous other conflicts
These wars drank heavily of the blood of our forefathers and families. Many paid the ultimate price during these wars. The very decisions made to enter war were enough to divide the country, and often did.
Consider the challenge to the leadership of our country when Abraham Lincoln was elected President and about to be sworn into office in 1861. By the time he took office, seven states had seceded from the Union to form the Confederate States of America and they had sworn in Jefferson Davis as President of the Confederacy. Abraham Lincoln's predecessor, President James Buchanan, had virtually given up hope of the possibility of further union and left Washington proclaiming that he was the "last President of the United States". Finally, rumors persisted that Lincoln's inauguration was to be disrupted, the president killed, and the city taken by the Confederates.
However, Lincoln persisted and became the great conciliator or peacemaker. And because of leaders like him, our Union lives.
Peacetime: The Constitutional Convention in 1787 was a war of ideas and words fought by some of the greatest thinkers of the world. Here, the thirteen colonies that had defeated England in the Revolutionary war now sought to unify themselves in order to offer mutual assistance for their own benefit and against common enemies. A world-famous conciliator in Benjamin Franklin was part of it. At 82, he was the patron saint of prudence and practicality.
We can learn at least two things about God & Country from the wise words of Dr. Franklin. One is that the greater good of the country must stand paramount over our individuality. He said that he had been obliged by better information and fuller consideration to change opinions even on important subjects, which he once thought right, but found to be otherwise.
He went on to note "For when you assemble a Number of Men to have the Advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected?"
Dr. Franklin said that "our enemies ...are waiting with confidence to hear that our Councils are confounded, like those of the builders of Babel, and that our States are on the Point of Separation, only to meet hereafter for the purposes of cutting one another's throats." Thus it was that he came to saying "the opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good."
The second point Dr. Franklin made was about the strength of divine guidance through prayer. After a long harangue in the Constitutional Convention, Dr. Franklin moved that "henceforth Prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessings on our Deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning," observing that without God's aid "we shall succeed in this Building no better than the Builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little, partial interests..." Though his proposal for prayer was rejected by the assembly, it served to uplift the thoughts of the members and made easier the Grand Compromise they were crafting.
We often read about or hear of the "American experiment" and democracy in the same breath. Will and Ariel Durant, a husband and wife team of historians, wrote a significant number of books on history and in the end, wrote "The Lessons of History". They found across the span of history regarding government and man that democracies were mere hectic interludes between monarchies.
So what are you and I here today to make of our gift, our legacy of American democracy? We hear that education is the guardian genius of democracy. Are we doing our best to educate within and outside of the family? What are we doing to ensure that the least of our brethren are properly educated even if we decry the reasons for their lack thereof? Iraq and Haiti are examples of the lack of education and the impact it has on the building and maintenance of a true democracy.
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reisch tells us in the book "Work of Nations" that the strength of a nation is measured by the skills and educational levels of its people.
Jefferson stated that, "If a nation, in a state of civilization, expected to remain ignorant and free, it expected what never was and never shall be."
We have all heard the words or seen the bumper sticker "God, Guns & Guts". I submit to you that with God, Strength and Resolve, our beautiful American Flag will continue to fly proudly across the globe.
May she ever proudly wave!