This weekend we’ll be pulling out the grills, setting out the lawn chairs and hopefully flying our country’s flag, as we celebrate the 240th birthday of the United States of America.
We’re still a young country. Still defining ourselves, evolving and changing through each generation. And with those changes come growing pains as we try to figure out the country we want to be, while not forgetting the values that helped make us the country we’ve grown to become.
As we mature as a nation, some practices and ideas are growing out of favor. Sadly, one of them is patriotism. Deep inside, I think most Americans like to see Old Glory flying high. After all, the flag is still sworn allegiance to at sports events, government meetings and in the Boy Scouts.
But if you did an online search of news articles that mentions controversies related to the American flag, you’d find that there are hundreds of thousands of results. Stories about flag burning and allegiance banning among others.
The flag has become a polarizing symbol, but it didn’t start that way. When our nation’s flag was first born, it wore thirteen red and white stripes but no stars. Like the country that it represents, the design has changed with the addition of stars in different shapes and alignment.
The flag once had 15 stripes when Vermont and Kentucky entered the Union. In 1818, the stars were shaped into, well into one big star. When Hawaii became a state in 1960, the flag we know today was born.
More than just a colorful rag you see on shirts and hats, the flag is our country’s most emotional symbol. It draws us to put a hand over a heart. Flown at cemeteries and other sacred sites, Old Glory has inspired our national anthem with words sung to the sound of dramatic drums or the poetry of a sole trumpet player.
There are some feelings, some ideas that we have held true for a very long time. Feelings for we should not be ashamed. I feel blessed to live in these United States, and I’m not embarrassed to say that we are still on that journey, that long and windy road we are traveling in search of a more perfect union.
We’re not there yet, but the fact that we are still on our way is why I will hang my flag high this coming Independence Day. There’s no shame in saying it — I’m proud to be an American.
Happy Birthday to the good old US of A.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on July 1, 2016.