Today, we honor the vision, the passion and the spirit of compromise with which our founding fathers were imbued as they created a government that the people would manage. That was unheard of in their time and, to many, offered little hope of succeeding.
But succeed it did, and, since those glorious days late in the 18th century, many others have tried to emulate what that unique group of heroes accomplished. The so-called noble experiment in democracy remains the wonder of the world.
Though seemingly fractured, at times, by bitter debate, America’s resolve to let the will of the majority prevail on most issues has overcome the sturdiest tests — even civil war.
Let’s focus today on the flag and what it should mean to us as we view it flying in so many places on this patriotic occasion.
First of all, if you look at a display of all 200-plus national flags, you can’t help but be impressed with the look of ours. It truly stands out from all others in its complex but clean array of elements.
Whereas most flags have one, two or three blocks of color and a symbol of some sort on one, ours has those distinctive 13 stripes alongside and under the blue field containing the 50 white stars.
The 13 and 50, of course, refer to the number of states: 13 for the original start of the nation in 1776 and 50 for now. The states are depicted by stars, set out equally on the blue field representing the nation. The nation comprises the states, none more significant than another.
The design of the current flag is the work of a schoolboy. Robert G. Heft was a 17-year-old living with his grandparents in Ohio in 1958 when Alaska and Hawaii were being considered for statehood.
Suggestions for the design of a flag with 50 stars, instead of the current 48, were solicited. Heft was assigned by his school, along with his fellow students, a project to create the new flag. For his design, his teacher famously gave him a grade of B minus.
When President Dwight D. Eisenhower chose his design of five rows of six stars alternating horizontally with four rows of five, the grade was changed to A.
It’s a beautiful flag that has stood the test of time and emblazoned itself in its nation’s hearts. Look at it today and reflect that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and all of our other greatest heroes have been inspired and comforted by it.
It is truly our proudest symbol.