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Friday, June 14, 2013

Hooray for The Stars and Stripes*

Happy Flag Day, everyone!

I wonder how many Americans know that June 14 is Flag Day. And even if we understand it as a holiday we don't get off from work; how many are aware of the importance of this symbol that has been a part of our history since we became the United States of America?

I wonder how many of us pay attention to our flag when we see it. The unquestionable symbol of our country has been displayed everywhere. Yet there seems to be a mix feelings about its significance. I have seen news reports on how our flag has been 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?

Here's a quick flashback on U.S. history. On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the national flag of the fledgling United States of America, replacing the British Grand Union flag. Thus, this date became Flag Day on modern American calendars.

According to legend, 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 the upper corner near the staff, a rectangular blue field containing 50 five-pointed white stars. The stripes symbolize the 13 states that originally comprised 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 represents the 50 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.

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 freely,
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.

(c) 2013 by Chris A. Quilpa

-Chris A. Quilpa is a retired veteran of the United States Navy and long-time resident of Suffolk. Email him at

*Published in Suffolk News-Herald's Opinion page, Friday, June 14, 2013.

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