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A tribute to the red, white and blue

By Chris Quilpa

Today is Flag Day. I wonder how many of us remembered it. I wonder how many of us pay attention to our flag each time we see it. How many of us are aware of the importance of this symbol?

Yet there seems to be a mix of feelings about its significance. I have seen news reports and videos on YouTube showing our flag being taken for granted or disrespected, both here and abroad.

Of course, we have freedom of speech, but shouldn’t we safeguard our flag if it represents our country?

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the national flag of the United States of America, replacing the British Grand Union flag. Eventually, this date became Flag Day on modern American calendars.

According to legend, Elizabeth “Betsy” Griscom Ross of Philadelphia designed and made the first U.S. flag in 1776 at the request of our first U.S. president, George Washington.

The official national flag consists of 13 horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with six white, and in the upper corner near the staff, a blue field containing 50 five-pointed white stars.

The stripes symbolize the 13 states that originally composed the United States of America — New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. The stars represent the 50 current states of the Union.

White signifies purity and innocence; red, hardiness and valor; and blue, vigilance, perseverance and justice.

On Flag Day, I would like to pay tribute to this beautiful emblem that represents the virtues of liberty, independence, democracy, pride, power, strength, unity and ideals. Here’s my humble, simple poem:

 

The Stars and Stripes

 

You’re everywhere —

At home, in schools,

City halls and embassies,

On foreign shores;

In the White House,

In the U.S. Capitol,

Federal buildings and hospitals,

Tall structures and historical landmarks,

National parks and museums,

At the United Nations headquarters …

 

In churches and cemeteries,

In counties, cities and states;

Up in the air,

All over the seas,

On the Moon up above —

You’re everywhere.

 

Here and there,

Flying so free,

Feeling so proud,

Standing so firm,

The insignia of our country,

The emblem of democracy;

Stars and Stripes

In red, blue and white

A symbol of our pride,

A symbol of our freedom,

A symbol of our unity,

Power and beauty!

 

Because of you,

Thousands of lives were lost,

Hundreds of battles fought.

But, in the end

Our dream came true —

Our independence and liberty

Regained and enjoyed by all.

 

Today, we salute you,

We come together

To honor you,

To renew our pledge of allegiance

To only you,

The Stars and Stripes.

Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.