Every Fourth of July, we throw a small get together at our farm. There is a 20-acre lake, BBQ, lots of desserts, fireworks, music, and a hundred or so invitees. I thought this week I would give the Dentistry thing a break and just make a couple of comments about our Flag. I wondered why we actually used the colors and stars in our flag design. I just assumed that because of our heritage we just used the colors in the Union Jack of England.
On June 14, 1777, in Philadelphia, the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress adopted a resolution that read as follows: “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 representing a new constellation.”
With these words, the Stars and Stripes were born. Yet there was never a word about the significance behind the choice of red, white, and blue. The colors and their significance can still be traced back to the birth of the country, and they had very specific meanings in the creation of the Great Seal a year earlier. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress passed a resolution authorizing a committee to develop a seal for the country. The committee was instructed to draw up a seal that reflected the Founding Fathers’ beliefs and values, as well as the sovereignty of the new nation. Red, white, and blue were chosen, and the Great Seal was officially adopted on June 20, 1782.
Charles Thomson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, explained the significance to the Congress when he presented the seal. “The colors,” Thomson said at the time, “are those used in the flag of the United States of America. White signifies purity and innocence. Red, hardiness & valor, and Blue signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice.”
Over the years people have altered Thomson’s original interpretation. Some now say that red represents the blood spilled by the patriots and those who fight to protect our country. President Reagan even put his own spin on the matter when he proclaimed 1986 the Year of the Flag. “The colors of our flag signify the qualities of human spirit we Americans cherish,” Reagan said. “Red for courage and readiness to sacrifice; white for pure intentions and high ideals; and blue for vigilance and justice.”
Being a Texan and a country boy, I love the chorus to Lee Greenwood’s song, “Proud to Be an American”:
I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land. God bless the U.S.A.
During this holiday, take the time to stand up, thank God, and tell your children and grand-children what the Red, White, and Blue stand for in our flag.
Mike Abernathy, DDS