RED WHITE BLUE

The Covington News - - LOCAL - Pete Mecca is a Viet­nam vet­eran, colum­nist and free­lance writer. You can reach him at avet­er­ansstory@gmail.com or avet­er­ansstory.us.

Wand in­no­cence; These words de­scribe the long stand­ing es­tab­lished mean­ing for the col­ors of the Amer­i­can flag. While praise­wor­thy, those elo­quent key­words ac­tu­ally de­scribe the sig­nif­i­cance of the red, white and blue col­ors for the Seal of the United States, as at­tested to by the Sec­re­tary of the Con­ti­nen­tal Congress Charles Thom­son upon the adop­tion of the Seal on June 20, 1782.

The Amer­i­can flag, adopted in a res­o­lu­tion by a Ma­rine Com­mit­tee of the Sec­ond Con­ti­nen­tal Congress on June 14, 1777, states: “Re­solved, that the flag of the United States be thir­teen stripes, al­ter­nate red and white; that the union be thir­teen stars, white in a blue field sym­bol­iz­ing a new con­stel­la­tion.” Un­less an au­then­ti­cated doc­u­ment is one day dis­cov­ered hid­den in­side a dusty fam­ily heir­loom, there is no of­fi­cial record of “why” the col­ors red, white, and blue were cho­sen to grace our na­tion’s flag.

The French fleet bot­tled up the Bri­tish at York­town to as­sure a vic­tory for Gen­eral Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton. A few his­to­ri­ans have sug­gested the red, white and blue of the French flag were adopted for our Amer­i­can flag as a show of grat­i­tude. Ob­vi­ously these his­to­ri­ans need to Google the his­tory of France. The red, white and blue of the French flag came into be­ing years af­ter the Amer­i­can Revo­lu­tion.

One the­ory with a spark of va­lid­ity sug­gests the red, white and blue was ac­tu­ally adopted from our en­emy’s flag (the Bri­tish Union Jack) since most of our of­fi­cers and men had fought un­der the Union Jack be­fore the push for in- de­pen­dence. What­ever the case, what­ever the rea­son, Amer­i­can men and women have fought and died for Old Glory’s sym­bol­ism for al­most 250 years. Amer­ica re­mains the fi­nal bas­tion for free­dom and the rights of the in­di­vid­ual.

Pres­i­dent Dwight Eisen­hower once fa­mously stated, “Amer­ica was born of a Revo­lu­tion, and that Revo­lu­tion continues to­day.” Eisen­hower was right on tar­get. Democ­racy is a very noisy busi­ness. It even al­lows free speech and dis­sen­sion to the point of burn­ing Old Glory in protest of a per­ceived wrong from the same democ­racy that pro­tects their right to torch the red, white and blue.

In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court de­clared all state and federal laws that pro­hib­ited des­e­cra­tion of the Amer­i­can flag as un­con­sti­tu­tional. There has not been a com­bat vet­eran on the Supreme Court for decades.

I dis­agree with the Supreme Court. Burn­ing Old Glory to de­nounce the United States of Amer­ica is be­hav­ior ex­pected from a sworn en­emy or for­eign rad­i­cals with­out the slight­est clue of what free­dom rep­re­sents. Burn­ing the flag, in my opin­ion, is no longer a real ‘dis­sen­sion,’ rather, a cheap trip to in­duce the news me­dia into film­ing your protest. When a throng of Amer­i­cans burn Old Glory in protest, they for­feit any sup­port from yours truly, no mat­ter what their cause.

Wil­liam Car­ney un­der­stood the sig­nif­i­cance of Old Glory. When the flag bearer in his unit fell mor­tally wounded, Car­ney picked up the Amer­i­can flag and con­tin­ued to lead the men of the Mas­sachusetts 45th Reg­i­ment against Fort Wag­ner in South Carolina dur­ing the Civil War. Car­ney, an African-Amer­i­can, was the first sol­dier of his race to re­ceive the Medal of Honor. His brav­ery was de­picted in the movie “Glory.”

Fran­cis Scott Key penned “The Star-Span­gled Ban­ner” dur­ing the Bat­tle of Bal­ti­more in 1815. His words did not be­come our Na­tional An­them un­til 1931.

Ab­surd as it may ap­pear, the Pledge of Al­le­giance was re­cited for the first time in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Sept. 13, 1988. The U.S. Se­nate fi­nally adopted a daily recital of the Pledge on June 24, 1999.

Be­fore June 22, 1942, most stu­dents saluted the flag by ex­tend­ing their right hand, palm down. Congress changed the salute to the hand over the heart be­cause the ‘old salute’ closely rep­re­sented the “Heil Hitler” salute of Nazi Ger­many.

Seven­teen-year-old high school stu­dent Bob Heft of Lan­caster, Ohio de­signed the now well­known 50-star Amer­i­can flag as an 11th grade his­tory project in 1958. For his ef­forts and pa­tri­o­tism, he re­ceived a B mi­nus.

No his­tor­i­cal ev­i­dence is in ex­is­tence prov­ing that Betsy Ross made the first Amer­i­can flag, nor that she as­sisted in its de­sign.

Those are in­ter­est­ing tid­bits con­cern­ing Old Glory. But tid­bits are not in­dica­tive of the men and women who paid the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice for our coun­try and for our flag. The six bat­tle-hard­ened Marines hoist­ing the Amer­i­can flag atop Mount Surib­achi sym­bol­ize a na­tion that is more than just an­other coun­try. Amer­i­can ex­cep­tion­al­ism has hit hard times, but Amer­i­cans have been down be­fore, and Old Glory does not re­main in the ashes for long.

Sub­mit­ted photo /The Cov­ing­ton News

Old Glory on an Afghan moun­tain.

PETE MECCA COLUM­NIST

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