Today in the United States is Flag Day – a day honoring the national flag, observed annually on June 14. Flag Day is a nationwide observance, but Pennsylvania is the only state that recognizes it as a legal holiday. The day commemorates the date of 1777 when the United States approved the design for its first national flag and the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States. Now there are 50 stars representing the 50 states and there are 13 stripes representing the 13 original colonies. The US flag should never touch anything beneath it or be carried flat or horizontally. It should always be aloft and free. And, the flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored so that it might be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way. Flying the American flag in the bed of a pickup truck isn’t a traffic violation, but it could be a patriotic issue if left unchecked. The U.S. Defense Department says the flag should only be flown upside down “to convey a sign of distress or great danger.” (Online sources).
Thankfully, I’ve not felt distressed or been in danger enough to fly our beautiful national flag upside down during this past year!
A war flag, also known as a military flag, battle flag, or standard, is a variant of a national flag for use by a country’s military forces when on land. The nautical equivalent is a navel ensign. (Wikipedia) Standards have been used throughout history in many countries. A standard can also be used symbolically.
Reverend Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the clergy “…occupying the watchtowers of the world, should uplift the standard of Truth. They should so raise their hearers spiritually, that their listeners will love to grapple with a new, right idea and broaden their concepts…Truth should emanate from the pulpit, but never be strangled there…A special privilege is vested in the ministry. How shall it be used? Sacredly, in the interests of humanity, not of sect” (pgs. 235-236). The Pastor Emeritus of The First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts, also wrote, “Christian Science raises the standard of liberty and cries: ‘Follow me! Escape from the bondage of sickness, sin, and death!’ Jesus marked out the way. Citizens of the world, accept the ‘glorious liberty of the children of God,’ and be free!” (p. 227)
Wide Horizon (aka your regional Christian Science nursing care organization) has proudly hosted and flown the flags of the US and Colorado high on a centrally located flagpole, lit from below, for years. In fact, we generally replace each flag every year, as the continual sun and wind cause them to fade and tatter. These two remarkable flags fly beautifully together in the breezes and winds of Wheat Ridge, Colorado.
The Colorado flag is one of my favorite flags, for I love its color, symbolism and simplicity of design. The red C stands for Colorado, a Spanish word, meaning red, as well as for centennial, as Colorado was admitted to the Union in the year 1876 – the 100th anniversary of American independence. Also, the C stands for columbine, the state flower of Colorado. The gold center symbolizes the glorious all-the-year-round sunshine throughout Colorado. And, the aureate center also represents the most precious of metals – gold – in the production of which Colorado excels all other states. The Yale (my son was accepted at Yale University but went westward) blue stripes stand for the ever-smiling skies of the Rocky Mountain region. The white stripe both typifies the white metal, silver in whose production Colorado also leads the entire galaxy of states and the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Also, the blue and white stripes together combine to give two of the delicate colors of the exquisite State flower, the columbine. Finally, the interlaced gold and silver cords symbolize the union and harmony of the sterling people of the Centennial state. (history.denverlibrary.org)
I’ve always loved sterling people and flags – growing up in several countries (Germany, Japan, USA) and states (Maine, Virginia, California). I love the wonderful colors and designs of many flags (and sterling people). Another favorite flag is the Olympic flag, with its white background and interlaced rings of blue, yellow, black, green, and red. The six colors are those that appeared on all national flags of the world at the time the symbol was created in 1915. The colors of the rings originally symbolized one of the five continents competing at the Olympics – Africa (yellow), the Americas (red), Asia (green), Europe (black), and Oceania (blue). I especially enjoy the opening of the Olympic games and the “Parade of Flags” closing ceremony at the Olympics. What a wonderful display of hues, youth, athleticism, peace, unity, joy and so much more!
A popular sitcom, “The Big Bang Theory” had 10 “Fun with Flags” episodes as a YouTube/podcast that characters Sheldon and Amy made to teach vexillology (from the Latin vexillum, meaning banner), the study of flags. (My beloved bride humorously calls the characters “the funny people” because they help me laugh after a long day of work. I enjoyed many of these humorous episodes this past year.)
I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of fun with flags!
D. Brian Boettiger