The American Flag

Kristen - Traverse City, Michigan
Entered on June 4, 2008

Over the course of my life I have seen millions of American flags hanging outside of homes, on flagpoles, and in schools. The simple piece of red, white and blue cloth adorned with stripes and stars is a tangible symbol of my pride and love for my country. When I see the flag flying high and waving in the wind I am reminded of all the soldiers who fought for my freedom. I am truly blessed to live in this free and prosperous country. Who knew a simple piece of cloth could evoke such strong feelings?

At the start of almost every sporting event in middle schools, high schools, colleges and professional sports, the announcer asks the audience to rise, remove hats, place hands over hearts, and face the flag for the singing of the National Anthem. When everyone in the stands is honoring the American flag I think of the unity the flag brings to our nation. No matter where we are from, every American can stand and honor his country. I know our country and government is not a picture-perfect society, but the flag symbolizes all the good in our nation. It reminds us of the principles on which our country was founded: liberty, loyalty, and freedom. I may not always agree with every action and decision of the American government and its leaders, but it does not stop me from honoring and expressing my pride for the flag.

I believe the American flag is more than just a flag. It is freedom. It is courage. It is history. It is pride. It is a reminder for all Americans the battles and victories our nation endured to gain independence. It is motivation for soldiers sacrificing their lives for their fellow Americans. When I see the American flag I feel at home.

I do not have a family member, close friend, or neighbor who fought in a war or is currently fighting in the war. I don’t know of anyone who has lost a loved one in the tragic events of September 11. I don’t know any policemen who fight against crimes and save lives on a daily basis. I don’t even know a firefighter who has sacrificed his life to save a stranger. I may have no personal connections to people who uphold the American values of self-sacrifice, pursuit of freedom and liberty, but the American flag still holds meaning to me. In my US history class I learned about World War II and the battle of Iwo Jima. During this class I had the opportunity to view the famous photograph by Joe Rosenthal of soldiers raising the American flag. I experienced many emotions and for a moment felt as if our country had just been victorious. I could relate to the joy and relief American citizens felt in 1945 after the publication of this patriotic photograph. I believe that any American no matter his or her background, family history, or acquaintances can understand the significance and meaning of our flag.