America: More Than Just Stars and Stripes
For the past half-century, historians worldwide have allowed their political biases to distort the way America’s past is recounted. They have searched high and low for instances of bigotry, racism and sexism in our history.
In today’s tempestuous political times, liberal media, progressive hacks and even teachers are manufacturing scandals to position the director of the FBI as more trustworthy than our president.
Any American political leader who dares turn closer to the center of conformity is labeled an unfair traitor to new social engineering. In the eyes of many, a country that was once envied by the world has become an offender of human rights and a bully for defending its freedom.
As we stray from the history of our founding, more emphasis is placed on Harriet Tubman than on George Washington; more on the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II than about D-Day or Iwo Jima. More are even placed on the dangers of Joe McCarthy than the evils of Josef Stalin.
It’s a progressive norm to condemn our struggle assimilating with Native Americans, end slavery and segregation, and give voting rights to women, as faults of “old white men.” It is in their DNA that denying equality and human rights to those considered as underclasses is an American norm. Downplaying the greatness of America’s patriots has become epidemic in the last decade.
American leaders are more criticized by our citizens than they are critiqued and ridiculed in other parts of the world. Somehow we never elect a candidate who is considered good for everyone. We always claim we elect the lesser of two evils. And once this new inferior leader is elected, we go on social media and tell everyone how happy we will be come next election — if we even vote. Yet in North Korea, everyone votes in every election and they only have one candidate to vote for. They cheer him on to victory and every move he makes while he lives in splendor and they remain in poverty.
What happened to the country that was named after the great Italian explorer, Amerigo Vespucci in the 16th century, a loose Latin derivative for a great new world? How did America lose its status as a warrior and now considered a paper tiger? Are we not the America that led the allies to victory by defending freedom in two great wars? Are we not the country led by Ronald Reagan, joined with St Pope John Paul, and Margaret Thatcher, the trinity destined to bring down the Iron Curtin without firing a single shot? Are we not the same country that kept West Berlin from going under during the Soviet bloc after WWII? Are we not the same country that leads the world in giving foreign aid to needy neighbors?
Like the lackluster patriotism in America today and the lack of respect that has grown over the last decade for the U.S. abroad, we watched another Flag Day waltz on by with nary a patriotic gesture. What used to be a day to edify our glory is just another day that most Americans do not even know exists. Yet Flag Day at one time was a day to remember the efforts of our founders and their united dedication to an idea, a vision, an intangible concept to the greatest tribute in our country; the day we dedicated our first American flag. On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress designated the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of our new nation. It sanctioned the design of “the red, white and blue” to represent our new constellation.
When the Founding Fathers affixed their signatures to the Declaration of Independence, this was the first act of political courage in U.S. history. Although we had many flags before the Revolution, our founders did not swear alliance to a flag, they swore an oath of collective unity that kindled the fires of revolution:
“All men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” Thomas Jefferson wrote.
When people originally pledged allegiance to the flag, it meant causal loyalty. America was an idea, an image, a hope, a dream in a new world. It was a pledge to a new frontier, a pledge for conquest, and a pledge for opportunity and religious freedom. It assimilated like-minded patriots with global backgrounds who brought something special to America and pledged to make it happen. Above all, they pledged to protect this newfound blessing and let no one take it away. This melting pot, like the recipe for nail soup, created a union of immigrants hybridized with one common goal — loyalty to each other.
In June 1776, George Washington, Robert Morris and George Ross visited relative Betsy Ross to design an American flag. It was to stand as a symbol of greatness. For years, Americans saluted that very flag with reverence and dignity. In 1885, shortly after the completion of the Statute of Liberty, Dr. Bernard Cigrand planned an event for his students on June 14, the anniversary of the day our flag was consummated; a day to honor Old Glory. He dedicated the remainder of his life promoting Flag Day. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson declared it a symbolic day to honor our first flag.
Wilson maintained these events would combat the influences dividing America both politically and socially during a time the world needed us to lead. His goal was to remind citizens, to demonstrate we were united and we would share that strength when it was needed as the world’s protectorate of freedom and liberty. Flag Day became the tool to galvanize people into a jingoistic patriotism. During the early 20th century, nationalistic holidays became pervasive. Americans wore flag pins, sang the national anthem and flew flags around the nation to express their patriotism to America.
Historian Ian Kershaw, said, “The road to Auschwitz was paved with indifference.” The apparent inability for America to maintain our image as a world protectorate during the last decade has led us down the path of passive acceptance as a nation no longer feared in foreign countries. This has tainted and diminished the options so many Americans have of themselves and our leaders. With a decade of progressive destruction of so many core elements of republicanism, our patriotism has gone the way of the Saturday matinee, the black and white TV show and the geometric slide-rule.
When an energetic President Trump proclaimed, “Make America great again,” it opened the doors for Americans to rekindle that special patriotism our founders had of what the American flag stood for: “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and the opportunity to achieve it. Shortly after WWII in 1949, when Harry Truman officially declared June 14 Flag Day, he claimed it would be a time for Americans to honor our colors by displaying them in our homes and other suitable places to show our gratitude for their privileges of living under this flag.
William Haupt III is a retired professional journalist, author, and citizen legislator in California for over 40 years. He got his start working to approve California Proposition 13.
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