Flying them high

5 mins read

Flag Day is when we celebrate the Stars and Stripes – and hopefully, what they stand for

By MIKE McCOMBS

Flag day is a strange holiday to me.

Don’t take that the wrong way. I don’t mean to disparage it.

Celebrated June 14, this Friday, Flag Day falls between Memorial Day and Independence Day. Two American holidays that seem to carry more weight.

But they each hold their own significance.

Memorial Day honors those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this nation.

Independence Day celebrates the very birth of this nation.

Flag Day celebrates the “birthday” of the American flag itself. The banner represents the things for which all those who made the ultimate sacrifice did so. And it’s the symbol of all the reasons this nation sprang forth from 13 British colonies.

It marks the date the Second Continental Congress decided “that the Flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

I picked the brain of John Chubb a little bit about Flag Day. I could have Googled it, but I wanted something from a real human being, not a Wikipedia page or something from the History Channel.

Chubb is the Public Relations Officer and post historian for American Legion Post 9 in Beaufort. He’s also a member of the Post’s executive committee.

I asked him what Flag Day meant to him.

“The flag is the symbol of the United States of America,” Chubb wrote. “It is recognized throughout the world as the emblem of our freedoms and the opportunities available to all through self-determination. To the many seeking to immigrate, it is the standard under which they seek to live. Those, like me, who have served and fought under the Stars and Stripes, hold the flag with a special reverence.”

Beaufort is a military town. A hotbed of patriotism.

It’s probably safe to say there are a lot of people who feel exactly like John Chubb.

In all honesty, though I have not served, I do. I think he nailed it.

That being said, I understand there may be some who have different feelings. Some people who have not been treated well by those who have carried that flag. In their own country.

Some people do not understand that. I wish they would.

This in no way is meant to insult those to whom the Stars and Stripes means everything. 

It just means there have been times, sadly, when many Americans’ ideals simply haven’t lived up to the standards – using John Chubb’s word – that the American flag represents.

There’s a verse in a Springsteen song I love about the flag. It’s not likely one you’ll know. 

But I’ve always loved how it captured what I felt like the flag meant, it’s place in family and community.

My father said, “Son, we’re lucky in this town, It’s a beautiful place to be born.
It just wraps its arms around you, Nobody crowds you and nobody goes it alone.”

“Your flag flyin’ over the courthouse means certain things are set in stone.
Who we are, what we’ll do and what we won’t.”

As a nation, America is unique for a lot of reasons. Some are good. Some are not so good.

We’re not the only country whose flag “stands for” something, in addition to the literal meaning of the 50 stars and the 13 stripes.

But we have to be one of the only ones who celebrate a flag itself. 

And that in turn means we’re celebrating the things for which that flag stands.

So when we’re making sure our flags are flying this week, I hope we all take at least a moment or two to reflect on the things, exactly, that flag represents.

Who we are, what we’ll do and what we won’t.

Photos by Bob Sofaly

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