I think Flag Day gets the short end of the stick as far as holidays go. No theme songs. No days off work. Heck, most of us don’t even know who made our flag in the first place! There are actually several legends that go around about that, but it was created circa 1776 and the flag that actually inspired the writing of The Star Spangled Banner was created around 1795.
And now I would like to tell you how the story of Francis Scott Key’s writing of our national anthem brought me to tears (spoiler alert: Whitney Houston may or may not play a role in this, may she RIP). I was in the National Museum of American History (which I highly recommend), and they have a whole special room dedicated to telling the story of our national anthem. First off, they tell you about the War of 1812, which gets about as much attention as Flag Day. The story goes that our boys had been fighting all night –on water– against the men in red, and they had been basically getting the smack down. They were about ready to throw in the towel and be ruled once again by the men from whom they’d escaped. Then, the sun begins to rise, they see the American Flag coming up over the horizon, and they remember why they’re fighting. They remember that freedom is worth it, that they couldn’t let England take back all that they had gained. And. They. Won.
And we have benefited for years and years from the bravery of this crew of men. These men who chose to fight instead of run away, who chose to do the hard thing instead of the easy thing, who chose to pursue freedom instead of succumbing to status quo. It makes me think that flags are probably more important than I’m inclined to regard them as, and it reminds of a quote from one of my favorite movies, V for Vendetta: “A building is a symbol, as is the act of destroying it. Symbols are given power by people. Alone, a symbol is meaningless, but with enough people, blowing up a building can change the world.” (note: I don’t condone blowing up buildings) Now, when I see the American flag or hear the national anthem at a graduation or football game, I think of those brave men in the War of 1812 who fought to keep us free and I think of the wonderful women who toiled away with needle and thread on that symbol that inspired them to victory.
Oh, and I think of Whitney’s version of that Spangled Banner, too. ‘Cause it’s amazing, her jacket was awesome, and that’s what they play in that special flag room in DC.
So, happy Flag Day, people! Enjoy my self portrait homage to this glorious day : )