Stars and Stripes Forever!

AP-avatarCara/Andrea here,

Flag-cakeToday is a festive day here in the United States as all around the 50 states we celebrate the birthday of our nation with lots of traditional All-American parties. There are town picnics, featuring hamburgers, hot dogs, coleslaw, strawberry ice cream and blueberry pie, followed by a blaze of brilliant fireworks (I always enjoy watching the dazzling display over the National Mall in Washington, DC on television.) And of course there is much flag waving, with bright flashes of red, white and blue snapping in the summer breeze.

USAThe sight of the Stars and Stripes sets many a heart aflutter. It’s a symbol of our country, and all the courage and sacrifices it’s taken to make it. In times of trouble, it’s a rallying point, reminding us of the elemental bonds that unite us despite our many differences.

AchaemenidImperialStandardFlags have long played a colorful role in history. (By the by, the study of flags is known as vexillology, from the Latin vexillum, which means flag or banner.)  One of the earliest flags on record—albeit a bronze one—was unearthed in Iran and dates back to the third century BC. It’s assumed that it was used in military action, and indeed, most early flag were used on the battlefield to help the combatants identify who was friend and who was foe. Both the ancient Greek historians Herodotus and Xenophon mention the Achaemenid battle standards carried by the Persian armies. And a distinctive Dragon standard was carried by the mounted Sarmatian warriors of the steppes.

Medieval-flagBy the High Middle Ages, heraldic flags and banners became popular as it wasn’t easy to see the crest emblazoned on an individual’s knight’s shield during the heat of combat. As principalities, city states and  cantons such as those of the Swiss confederacy arose, they too, began to design flags to herald their identity. Dukedoms, kingdoms, Empires . . . it became a matter of pride to have one’s own distinctive symbol of identity.

Some Random Flag Facts:

DenmarkThe flag of Denmark, known as the Dannebrog, dates back to the 13th century and is the oldest national flag still in use.

FranceThe flag of France was designed in 1794 and reflects the tricolor symbol of the French Revolution.

Nepal.The flag of Nepal, the only national flag that is not a rectangular shape.

Original USAThe first flag hoisted by general Washington over the Continental Army in January 1776  had thirteen red and white stripes and the Union Jack in the upper left hand corner. Now, we all know that later that year, Betsy Ross stitched up a new design with thirteen stars arranged in a circle to created a uniquely “American” look, free of British influence. In 1777, the Continental Congress confirmed the design as the official flag of the new nation passed the first Flag Act, which read “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

USASince then, the act has been amended several times to allow for additional stars to be added as new states came into the union. Today, "Old Glory" has thirteen stripes—seven red and six white—which represent the original thirteen colonies. Fifty white stars symbolizing the fifty states are arranged on the dark blue field in the upper left hand corner. The colors have meaning as well—red stands for hardiness and valor, white symbolizes purity and innocence and blue represents vigilance and justice.

FireworksSo, that about sews up my brief overview on flags. But before I hoist a final salute to the Stars and Stripes on America’s birthday, I’ll end with a word of thanks for all the gifts that our country has given us. There are many things for which I am profoundly grateful, but perhaps most of all, I am glad to live in a land that give
s us the freedom to think and to use our imagination without having to conform to any rigid set of rules. That’s something wonderful to celebrate in my book—let the fireworks begin!

What is it about America that you are most grateful for? And if you’re not American, what quality about the U.S. do you admire most? And lastly, to end on a party note, what’s your favorite All-American Fourth of July picnic staple? Mine is chocolate chip cookies!

50 thoughts on “Stars and Stripes Forever!”

  1. If asked, I can never think of what I am most grateful for. Negatives are always so much easier to pinpoint, and complaining is just somehow more interesting than listing positives.
    Favorite foods are much easier, though. Apple pie is always good, and here in Hawaii, spam musubi (rice balls with spam) are a delicious picnic standard.

    Reply
  2. If asked, I can never think of what I am most grateful for. Negatives are always so much easier to pinpoint, and complaining is just somehow more interesting than listing positives.
    Favorite foods are much easier, though. Apple pie is always good, and here in Hawaii, spam musubi (rice balls with spam) are a delicious picnic standard.

    Reply
  3. If asked, I can never think of what I am most grateful for. Negatives are always so much easier to pinpoint, and complaining is just somehow more interesting than listing positives.
    Favorite foods are much easier, though. Apple pie is always good, and here in Hawaii, spam musubi (rice balls with spam) are a delicious picnic standard.

    Reply
  4. If asked, I can never think of what I am most grateful for. Negatives are always so much easier to pinpoint, and complaining is just somehow more interesting than listing positives.
    Favorite foods are much easier, though. Apple pie is always good, and here in Hawaii, spam musubi (rice balls with spam) are a delicious picnic standard.

    Reply
  5. If asked, I can never think of what I am most grateful for. Negatives are always so much easier to pinpoint, and complaining is just somehow more interesting than listing positives.
    Favorite foods are much easier, though. Apple pie is always good, and here in Hawaii, spam musubi (rice balls with spam) are a delicious picnic standard.

    Reply
  6. A very interesting point about complaining, Margot. It’s true, isn’t it. I try to catch myself at times, and remind myself to think of the positive because one really does tend to be happier when accentuating the good things in life rather than the bad. It’s not easy, but I do try!
    Love your spam rice balls—that’s another thing so wonderful about America—we’ve so many different cultures and tastes in the melting pot!

    Reply
  7. A very interesting point about complaining, Margot. It’s true, isn’t it. I try to catch myself at times, and remind myself to think of the positive because one really does tend to be happier when accentuating the good things in life rather than the bad. It’s not easy, but I do try!
    Love your spam rice balls—that’s another thing so wonderful about America—we’ve so many different cultures and tastes in the melting pot!

    Reply
  8. A very interesting point about complaining, Margot. It’s true, isn’t it. I try to catch myself at times, and remind myself to think of the positive because one really does tend to be happier when accentuating the good things in life rather than the bad. It’s not easy, but I do try!
    Love your spam rice balls—that’s another thing so wonderful about America—we’ve so many different cultures and tastes in the melting pot!

    Reply
  9. A very interesting point about complaining, Margot. It’s true, isn’t it. I try to catch myself at times, and remind myself to think of the positive because one really does tend to be happier when accentuating the good things in life rather than the bad. It’s not easy, but I do try!
    Love your spam rice balls—that’s another thing so wonderful about America—we’ve so many different cultures and tastes in the melting pot!

    Reply
  10. A very interesting point about complaining, Margot. It’s true, isn’t it. I try to catch myself at times, and remind myself to think of the positive because one really does tend to be happier when accentuating the good things in life rather than the bad. It’s not easy, but I do try!
    Love your spam rice balls—that’s another thing so wonderful about America—we’ve so many different cultures and tastes in the melting pot!

    Reply
  11. What a fun post, Cara/Andrea! Flags have enormous emotional power, which is why there has been such fierce fighting over disrepescting a flag.
    In military units, the regimental banner is almost like the regiment’s soul, and losing it in banner was a heart breaking digrace. In British cathedrals and military museums, if you look up you’ll often see fragile, web-like banners capture in ancient battles. Symbols have power, and flags are some of the most potent symbols we have.
    Things I’m grateful for? A degree of freedom and opportunity that I grew up taking for granted. This country is far from perfect, but we do have a history of trying to make things better.
    As an author, I give thanks for the huge American publishing market, which gives us a chance to write our books and maybe even earn a living. Plus, many American romance are bought for foreign translation and publication. It’s harder to be a writer in a country with a small number of people in the language group.
    As for favorite foods–bring on the strawberry shortcake, with fresh, tangy berries, warm crumbly shortcake and whipped cream!!!! I’m making that tonight as we watch the movie INDEPENDENCE DAY. *g*

    Reply
  12. What a fun post, Cara/Andrea! Flags have enormous emotional power, which is why there has been such fierce fighting over disrepescting a flag.
    In military units, the regimental banner is almost like the regiment’s soul, and losing it in banner was a heart breaking digrace. In British cathedrals and military museums, if you look up you’ll often see fragile, web-like banners capture in ancient battles. Symbols have power, and flags are some of the most potent symbols we have.
    Things I’m grateful for? A degree of freedom and opportunity that I grew up taking for granted. This country is far from perfect, but we do have a history of trying to make things better.
    As an author, I give thanks for the huge American publishing market, which gives us a chance to write our books and maybe even earn a living. Plus, many American romance are bought for foreign translation and publication. It’s harder to be a writer in a country with a small number of people in the language group.
    As for favorite foods–bring on the strawberry shortcake, with fresh, tangy berries, warm crumbly shortcake and whipped cream!!!! I’m making that tonight as we watch the movie INDEPENDENCE DAY. *g*

    Reply
  13. What a fun post, Cara/Andrea! Flags have enormous emotional power, which is why there has been such fierce fighting over disrepescting a flag.
    In military units, the regimental banner is almost like the regiment’s soul, and losing it in banner was a heart breaking digrace. In British cathedrals and military museums, if you look up you’ll often see fragile, web-like banners capture in ancient battles. Symbols have power, and flags are some of the most potent symbols we have.
    Things I’m grateful for? A degree of freedom and opportunity that I grew up taking for granted. This country is far from perfect, but we do have a history of trying to make things better.
    As an author, I give thanks for the huge American publishing market, which gives us a chance to write our books and maybe even earn a living. Plus, many American romance are bought for foreign translation and publication. It’s harder to be a writer in a country with a small number of people in the language group.
    As for favorite foods–bring on the strawberry shortcake, with fresh, tangy berries, warm crumbly shortcake and whipped cream!!!! I’m making that tonight as we watch the movie INDEPENDENCE DAY. *g*

    Reply
  14. What a fun post, Cara/Andrea! Flags have enormous emotional power, which is why there has been such fierce fighting over disrepescting a flag.
    In military units, the regimental banner is almost like the regiment’s soul, and losing it in banner was a heart breaking digrace. In British cathedrals and military museums, if you look up you’ll often see fragile, web-like banners capture in ancient battles. Symbols have power, and flags are some of the most potent symbols we have.
    Things I’m grateful for? A degree of freedom and opportunity that I grew up taking for granted. This country is far from perfect, but we do have a history of trying to make things better.
    As an author, I give thanks for the huge American publishing market, which gives us a chance to write our books and maybe even earn a living. Plus, many American romance are bought for foreign translation and publication. It’s harder to be a writer in a country with a small number of people in the language group.
    As for favorite foods–bring on the strawberry shortcake, with fresh, tangy berries, warm crumbly shortcake and whipped cream!!!! I’m making that tonight as we watch the movie INDEPENDENCE DAY. *g*

    Reply
  15. What a fun post, Cara/Andrea! Flags have enormous emotional power, which is why there has been such fierce fighting over disrepescting a flag.
    In military units, the regimental banner is almost like the regiment’s soul, and losing it in banner was a heart breaking digrace. In British cathedrals and military museums, if you look up you’ll often see fragile, web-like banners capture in ancient battles. Symbols have power, and flags are some of the most potent symbols we have.
    Things I’m grateful for? A degree of freedom and opportunity that I grew up taking for granted. This country is far from perfect, but we do have a history of trying to make things better.
    As an author, I give thanks for the huge American publishing market, which gives us a chance to write our books and maybe even earn a living. Plus, many American romance are bought for foreign translation and publication. It’s harder to be a writer in a country with a small number of people in the language group.
    As for favorite foods–bring on the strawberry shortcake, with fresh, tangy berries, warm crumbly shortcake and whipped cream!!!! I’m making that tonight as we watch the movie INDEPENDENCE DAY. *g*

    Reply
  16. Mary Jo, that’s such a true point about military banners and standards—flags really are such a visceral symbol for a country or a cause.
    Despite all our faults, America still does offer a wealth of opportunities to its citizens. We all can dream, and have a chance of achieving that dream . . . which is a pretty great thing.
    Strawberry shortcake? Yum, yum!

    Reply
  17. Mary Jo, that’s such a true point about military banners and standards—flags really are such a visceral symbol for a country or a cause.
    Despite all our faults, America still does offer a wealth of opportunities to its citizens. We all can dream, and have a chance of achieving that dream . . . which is a pretty great thing.
    Strawberry shortcake? Yum, yum!

    Reply
  18. Mary Jo, that’s such a true point about military banners and standards—flags really are such a visceral symbol for a country or a cause.
    Despite all our faults, America still does offer a wealth of opportunities to its citizens. We all can dream, and have a chance of achieving that dream . . . which is a pretty great thing.
    Strawberry shortcake? Yum, yum!

    Reply
  19. Mary Jo, that’s such a true point about military banners and standards—flags really are such a visceral symbol for a country or a cause.
    Despite all our faults, America still does offer a wealth of opportunities to its citizens. We all can dream, and have a chance of achieving that dream . . . which is a pretty great thing.
    Strawberry shortcake? Yum, yum!

    Reply
  20. Mary Jo, that’s such a true point about military banners and standards—flags really are such a visceral symbol for a country or a cause.
    Despite all our faults, America still does offer a wealth of opportunities to its citizens. We all can dream, and have a chance of achieving that dream . . . which is a pretty great thing.
    Strawberry shortcake? Yum, yum!

    Reply
  21. Sherrie here. Cara/Andrea, thank you for your brief flag history post. Enlightening! Mary Jo, I didn’t realize the Brits (and probably other nations, as well) displayed in museums and churches some of the flags captured in battle.
    My favorite 4th of July food? Topping the list would be hamburgers and hotdogs grilled on the BBQ, and potato salad. True American Independence Day staples, especially if the hamburger is piled high with lettuce, tomato, onions, mustard, dill pickle slices, and lots of mayo that squirts out the other end when you bite into it. I always have to eat my hamburger leaning over a paper plate to catch the drips!
    Happy birthday, America. My heart swells with old-fashioned pride and thankfulness for this great nation I call home. When I look at how women are treated in many other nations, I am thankful for the freedom women in America have. I am also proud of how America became a world power to be reckoned with in such a short time. While other nations have existed for many centuries, America grew from an untamed wilderness to a world power in just a few hundred years.

    Reply
  22. Sherrie here. Cara/Andrea, thank you for your brief flag history post. Enlightening! Mary Jo, I didn’t realize the Brits (and probably other nations, as well) displayed in museums and churches some of the flags captured in battle.
    My favorite 4th of July food? Topping the list would be hamburgers and hotdogs grilled on the BBQ, and potato salad. True American Independence Day staples, especially if the hamburger is piled high with lettuce, tomato, onions, mustard, dill pickle slices, and lots of mayo that squirts out the other end when you bite into it. I always have to eat my hamburger leaning over a paper plate to catch the drips!
    Happy birthday, America. My heart swells with old-fashioned pride and thankfulness for this great nation I call home. When I look at how women are treated in many other nations, I am thankful for the freedom women in America have. I am also proud of how America became a world power to be reckoned with in such a short time. While other nations have existed for many centuries, America grew from an untamed wilderness to a world power in just a few hundred years.

    Reply
  23. Sherrie here. Cara/Andrea, thank you for your brief flag history post. Enlightening! Mary Jo, I didn’t realize the Brits (and probably other nations, as well) displayed in museums and churches some of the flags captured in battle.
    My favorite 4th of July food? Topping the list would be hamburgers and hotdogs grilled on the BBQ, and potato salad. True American Independence Day staples, especially if the hamburger is piled high with lettuce, tomato, onions, mustard, dill pickle slices, and lots of mayo that squirts out the other end when you bite into it. I always have to eat my hamburger leaning over a paper plate to catch the drips!
    Happy birthday, America. My heart swells with old-fashioned pride and thankfulness for this great nation I call home. When I look at how women are treated in many other nations, I am thankful for the freedom women in America have. I am also proud of how America became a world power to be reckoned with in such a short time. While other nations have existed for many centuries, America grew from an untamed wilderness to a world power in just a few hundred years.

    Reply
  24. Sherrie here. Cara/Andrea, thank you for your brief flag history post. Enlightening! Mary Jo, I didn’t realize the Brits (and probably other nations, as well) displayed in museums and churches some of the flags captured in battle.
    My favorite 4th of July food? Topping the list would be hamburgers and hotdogs grilled on the BBQ, and potato salad. True American Independence Day staples, especially if the hamburger is piled high with lettuce, tomato, onions, mustard, dill pickle slices, and lots of mayo that squirts out the other end when you bite into it. I always have to eat my hamburger leaning over a paper plate to catch the drips!
    Happy birthday, America. My heart swells with old-fashioned pride and thankfulness for this great nation I call home. When I look at how women are treated in many other nations, I am thankful for the freedom women in America have. I am also proud of how America became a world power to be reckoned with in such a short time. While other nations have existed for many centuries, America grew from an untamed wilderness to a world power in just a few hundred years.

    Reply
  25. Sherrie here. Cara/Andrea, thank you for your brief flag history post. Enlightening! Mary Jo, I didn’t realize the Brits (and probably other nations, as well) displayed in museums and churches some of the flags captured in battle.
    My favorite 4th of July food? Topping the list would be hamburgers and hotdogs grilled on the BBQ, and potato salad. True American Independence Day staples, especially if the hamburger is piled high with lettuce, tomato, onions, mustard, dill pickle slices, and lots of mayo that squirts out the other end when you bite into it. I always have to eat my hamburger leaning over a paper plate to catch the drips!
    Happy birthday, America. My heart swells with old-fashioned pride and thankfulness for this great nation I call home. When I look at how women are treated in many other nations, I am thankful for the freedom women in America have. I am also proud of how America became a world power to be reckoned with in such a short time. While other nations have existed for many centuries, America grew from an untamed wilderness to a world power in just a few hundred years.

    Reply
  26. Sherrie, you are so right that women in this country are fortunate to have the freedom to shape their own destiny. I, too, am incredibly grateful for that.
    I’m putting burgers on the grill tonight too, with corn on the cob as a side dish. Happy Birthday, America!

    Reply
  27. Sherrie, you are so right that women in this country are fortunate to have the freedom to shape their own destiny. I, too, am incredibly grateful for that.
    I’m putting burgers on the grill tonight too, with corn on the cob as a side dish. Happy Birthday, America!

    Reply
  28. Sherrie, you are so right that women in this country are fortunate to have the freedom to shape their own destiny. I, too, am incredibly grateful for that.
    I’m putting burgers on the grill tonight too, with corn on the cob as a side dish. Happy Birthday, America!

    Reply
  29. Sherrie, you are so right that women in this country are fortunate to have the freedom to shape their own destiny. I, too, am incredibly grateful for that.
    I’m putting burgers on the grill tonight too, with corn on the cob as a side dish. Happy Birthday, America!

    Reply
  30. Sherrie, you are so right that women in this country are fortunate to have the freedom to shape their own destiny. I, too, am incredibly grateful for that.
    I’m putting burgers on the grill tonight too, with corn on the cob as a side dish. Happy Birthday, America!

    Reply
  31. Great post, Cara! I’m an Air Force brat so honoring the flag is second nature to me.
    I am grateful for this country – flawed and imperfect as it is. I have the freedom to pursue my dreams – my happiness. So many people don’t realize the right to the pursuit of happiness doesn’t guarantee anything and the important word in that phrase is PURSUIT. That means you have the right to get off your posterior and go after it – not the right to have it delivered on a silver platter.
    We still try to afford everyone equality in this country. Many countries in this world don’t even give lip service to this concept.
    I have more freedom here as a woman than the vast majority of my sisters in other parts of the world.
    Education is offered to boys and girls and the basic education offered is vastly superior to that offered in many other nations. It has its flaws, but it is still better than what is offered in so many third world countries.
    I am free to practice my religion or no religion at all.
    And I have the right to express my objections to and displeasure with government policies without fear of imprisonment or death.
    We’re not perfect here in America, but we’re still growing and trying. God bless us for that. And God bless the troops all over the world who stand guard to give us those rights.

    Reply
  32. Great post, Cara! I’m an Air Force brat so honoring the flag is second nature to me.
    I am grateful for this country – flawed and imperfect as it is. I have the freedom to pursue my dreams – my happiness. So many people don’t realize the right to the pursuit of happiness doesn’t guarantee anything and the important word in that phrase is PURSUIT. That means you have the right to get off your posterior and go after it – not the right to have it delivered on a silver platter.
    We still try to afford everyone equality in this country. Many countries in this world don’t even give lip service to this concept.
    I have more freedom here as a woman than the vast majority of my sisters in other parts of the world.
    Education is offered to boys and girls and the basic education offered is vastly superior to that offered in many other nations. It has its flaws, but it is still better than what is offered in so many third world countries.
    I am free to practice my religion or no religion at all.
    And I have the right to express my objections to and displeasure with government policies without fear of imprisonment or death.
    We’re not perfect here in America, but we’re still growing and trying. God bless us for that. And God bless the troops all over the world who stand guard to give us those rights.

    Reply
  33. Great post, Cara! I’m an Air Force brat so honoring the flag is second nature to me.
    I am grateful for this country – flawed and imperfect as it is. I have the freedom to pursue my dreams – my happiness. So many people don’t realize the right to the pursuit of happiness doesn’t guarantee anything and the important word in that phrase is PURSUIT. That means you have the right to get off your posterior and go after it – not the right to have it delivered on a silver platter.
    We still try to afford everyone equality in this country. Many countries in this world don’t even give lip service to this concept.
    I have more freedom here as a woman than the vast majority of my sisters in other parts of the world.
    Education is offered to boys and girls and the basic education offered is vastly superior to that offered in many other nations. It has its flaws, but it is still better than what is offered in so many third world countries.
    I am free to practice my religion or no religion at all.
    And I have the right to express my objections to and displeasure with government policies without fear of imprisonment or death.
    We’re not perfect here in America, but we’re still growing and trying. God bless us for that. And God bless the troops all over the world who stand guard to give us those rights.

    Reply
  34. Great post, Cara! I’m an Air Force brat so honoring the flag is second nature to me.
    I am grateful for this country – flawed and imperfect as it is. I have the freedom to pursue my dreams – my happiness. So many people don’t realize the right to the pursuit of happiness doesn’t guarantee anything and the important word in that phrase is PURSUIT. That means you have the right to get off your posterior and go after it – not the right to have it delivered on a silver platter.
    We still try to afford everyone equality in this country. Many countries in this world don’t even give lip service to this concept.
    I have more freedom here as a woman than the vast majority of my sisters in other parts of the world.
    Education is offered to boys and girls and the basic education offered is vastly superior to that offered in many other nations. It has its flaws, but it is still better than what is offered in so many third world countries.
    I am free to practice my religion or no religion at all.
    And I have the right to express my objections to and displeasure with government policies without fear of imprisonment or death.
    We’re not perfect here in America, but we’re still growing and trying. God bless us for that. And God bless the troops all over the world who stand guard to give us those rights.

    Reply
  35. Great post, Cara! I’m an Air Force brat so honoring the flag is second nature to me.
    I am grateful for this country – flawed and imperfect as it is. I have the freedom to pursue my dreams – my happiness. So many people don’t realize the right to the pursuit of happiness doesn’t guarantee anything and the important word in that phrase is PURSUIT. That means you have the right to get off your posterior and go after it – not the right to have it delivered on a silver platter.
    We still try to afford everyone equality in this country. Many countries in this world don’t even give lip service to this concept.
    I have more freedom here as a woman than the vast majority of my sisters in other parts of the world.
    Education is offered to boys and girls and the basic education offered is vastly superior to that offered in many other nations. It has its flaws, but it is still better than what is offered in so many third world countries.
    I am free to practice my religion or no religion at all.
    And I have the right to express my objections to and displeasure with government policies without fear of imprisonment or death.
    We’re not perfect here in America, but we’re still growing and trying. God bless us for that. And God bless the troops all over the world who stand guard to give us those rights.

    Reply
  36. Happy fourth to everyone here! We had ice cream sundaes this afternoon and chicken and corn on the cob for dinner. We are so lucky to live in this great country of ours. Happy Birthday America!!!

    Reply
  37. Happy fourth to everyone here! We had ice cream sundaes this afternoon and chicken and corn on the cob for dinner. We are so lucky to live in this great country of ours. Happy Birthday America!!!

    Reply
  38. Happy fourth to everyone here! We had ice cream sundaes this afternoon and chicken and corn on the cob for dinner. We are so lucky to live in this great country of ours. Happy Birthday America!!!

    Reply
  39. Happy fourth to everyone here! We had ice cream sundaes this afternoon and chicken and corn on the cob for dinner. We are so lucky to live in this great country of ours. Happy Birthday America!!!

    Reply
  40. Happy fourth to everyone here! We had ice cream sundaes this afternoon and chicken and corn on the cob for dinner. We are so lucky to live in this great country of ours. Happy Birthday America!!!

    Reply

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