The Flag, is it Really Important?

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Are Flags Really Important?

We all laugh or make some kind of a pirate jester ( Ahrrrrg Ahrrrg ) when we see the old Jolly Roger flying on a sail boat, or hanging in someones yard or garage. With the the movies making pirates like Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates Of The Caribbean a romantic funny hero, its no wonder people don’t take the flag serious.

But there was a time in the days of old, when men who sailed Merchant ships upon the high seas, would tremble and fear strike their hearts when this black flag was hoist and spotted at sea. This black flag brought no romance with it. What it brought was as true as its color and the skull and crossbones. Death! DSCF5627

Should the Pirates prevail, those who were not killed were made to sign on with the pirates, traded for ransom or sold into slavery no matter the color of their skin. All the goods the ship was carrying would now be the booty of the pirates. If the merchant ship survived the attack the pirates would commandeer it and make it there own. No, this Black Flag was not a Jolly Roger!

Now the American Flag today is not the symbol it once was to the people of the world. It has been desecrated, burned, spat upon and even pissed on. This once Great symbol of freedom and justice for all who came under her colors, now is disrespected not only around the world but here at home in the good old USA.

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What happened? Why is there no respect for this once great flag? Is it because we as a people have become less great then the generations before us?

Patrick Henry stood on the aft of his ship during a battle of the revolutionary war. The odds were against them. He recited part of a speech he had made from his pew in a Richmond church, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! — I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” With the flag flying high up the mast of the ship the men rallied to the call and victory was won!

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War of 1812

By the early 1810s, the United States had entered into conflict with Britain over the kidnapping of U.S. Seamen and the disruption of trade with France. The ensuing hostilities would come to be known as the War of 1812. Though opposed to the war due to his religious beliefs and believing that the disagreement could be settled without armed conflict, Francis Scott Key nonetheless served in the Georgetown Light Field Artillery.

British forces captured Washington, D.C., in 1814. Taken prisoner was a Dr. William Beanes, who also happened to be a colleague of Key. Due to his work as an attorney, Key was asked to help in the negotiation of Beanes’ release and in the process traveled to Baltimore where British naval forces were located along Chesapeake Bay. He, along with Colonel John Skinner, was able to secure Beanes’ freedom, though they were not allowed to return to land until the British completed their bombardment of Fort McHenry.

On September 13, the three at sea watched what would become a day-long assault. After continual bombing, to Key’s surprise, the British weren’t able to destroy the fort.  Key noted upon the dawning of the next morning a large U.S. flag being flown, (It had in fact been sewn by Mary Young Pickersgill at the request of the fort commander).

The British ceased their attack and left the area. Key immediately wrote down the words for a poem that he would continue composing at an inn the next day. The work, which relied heavily on visualizations of what he witnessed would come to be known as the “Defense of Fort McHenry” and was printed in handbills and newspapers, including the Baltimore Patriot. The poem was later set to the tune of a drinking song by John Stafford Smith, “To Anacreon in Heaven,” and came to be called “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

Decades later, in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson declared “The Star-Spangled Banner” should be played at official events. On March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover along with Congress had the song declared the U.S. National Anthem.

Practical Purposes of Civil War Battle Flags

The regimental flags were critical in Civil War battles. They marked the position of the regiment on the battlefield, which was often a very confused place. With the noise and smoke of battle, the regiments would become scattered, vocal commands and even bugle calls would not be heard.

So a visual rallying point was essential, and soldiers were trained to follow the flag.

A popular song of the Civil War, “The Battle Cry of Freedom,” made mention of how “we’ll rally ’round the flag, boys”. The reference to the flag, while ostensibly a patriotic boast, does actually play upon the practical use of flags as rallying points on the battlefield.

Because the regimental flags had genuine strategic importance in battle, designated teams of soldiers known as the color guard carried them. A typical regimental color guard would consist of two color bearers, one carrying the national flag (the U.S. flag or a Confederate flag) and one carrying the regimental flag. Often two other soldiers were assigned to guard the color bearers.

Being a color bearer was considered a mark of great distinction and it required a soldier of extraordinary bravery. The job was to carry the flag where the regimental officers directed, while unarmed and under fire. Most importantly, color bearers had to face the enemy and never break and run in retreat, or the entire regiment might follow.

As the regimental flags were so conspicuous in battle, they were often used as a target for rifle and artillery fire. And, of course, the mortality rate of color bearers was high.

Heed The Call

Wherever she had been called upon, the Beaches of Normandy, the island of Iwo Jima, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, she went. She has rallied her solders to victory. She has covered the fallen and been given to grieving mothers. Yes she is just a symbol, a flag made up of stars and strips, the old red, white and blue. But she stands for so much more, she stands for our freedom, for all the battles fought to keep our freedom. But most importantly for the souls she covered and laid to rest in defense of this great gift called Freedom!

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Once again I ask, “What has happen to this generation?”

We have taken God out of our schools, we no longer discipline, we no longer “Pledge Allegiance to The Flag” and we have removed the Ten Commandments from schools and our court rooms.

Today’s generation has no discipline, no respect for others, no honor, no value for life and nothing to believe in. All of which they would have learned in school had these principles not been removed.  The rest of the world no longer respects us, because we we no longer respect ourselves. So why are we so shocked when a young person takes so many innocent lives in a mass shooting?

America! America! Is your greatness lost! Will we find it again? 

Today is the day we should all vow to repeat a few important words from a speech by President John F. Kennedy, “ask not what my country can do for me, but rather ask, what can I do for my country?”

Is Our Flag Really Important?

I will Leave you with this poem.

GOD SAVE THE FLAG

Washed in the blood of the brave and the blooming,
snatched from the alters of insolent foes,
Burning with stars-fires, but never consuming,
flash its broad ribbons of lily and rose,
God Bless the flag and its loyal defenders,
while its broad folds o’er the battle-field wave,
till the dim star-wreath rekindle its splendors,
washed from its stains in the blood of the brave.

By

Oliver Wendell Holmes

One mans opinion,

Cowboy Captain

2 thoughts on “The Flag, is it Really Important?

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