Seeing “Old Glory” displayed around town and in people’s yards or on their vehicles serves as a constant reminder to be grateful that we live in the land of the free, especially on patriotic holidays.

There’s a special holiday every June 14, known as Flag Day that marks the date in 1777 when the Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States.

Many years ago, my daughter and I were in Washington, D.C. on Flag Day. As we entered the front doors of the Smithsonian American History Museum, we looked up to see an American Flag the height of a two-story building. We learned that the flag was the one hung on the outer wall of the Pentagon on 9/11.

Walking down a dimly-lit hallway, we turned to see “The Star-Spangled Banner” that Francis Scott Key saw after a night of battle at Fort McHenry. Our flag was still there,” he penned the now famous words of our national anthem. In effort to preserve the tattered 200-year-old flag, it lies flat and flash photography is not permitted.

Have you ever wondered why we call our flag “Old Glory”? In 1834, 21-year-old sea captain William Driver was licensed to command his first ship. His mother and some friends gave him a United States Flag as a farewell gift.

Driver called the flag “Old Glory” and flew it on his ship during his voyages around the world. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Not only do we sing about it, we salute it. We recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag with a gesture that I believe is significant. When I place my right hand over my heart, I feel the vibration of my voice coming from my throat. But more importantly, I feel my heart beating, reminding me of those who have given their lives to preserve our freedom.

We are “one nation under God” and the Bible promises, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12). All the more reason to practice our nation’s motto, which is printed on our money, “In God We Trust.”

Though Congress left no record as to why it chose red, white and blue, they also chose the same colors in 1782 for the Great Seal of the United States.

Some historical sources say there’s symbolism in these colors – red stands for hardiness and courage, white for purity and innocence, and blue for vigilance, perseverance and justice.

When we see “Old Glory,” may it remind us of our responsibility to pray for our country, especially our military who often serve in harm’s way. Someone once said, “Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it, it flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.”

In the words of singer/songwriter Lee Greenwood, “The flag still stands for freedom and they can’t take that away.” The title of his song remains my prayer for our country, “God bless the USA.”

— Jan White is author of “Everyday Faith for Daily Life.”
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