The American flag is more than a symbol of our country. It’s a constant reminder of who we are and how we got here. The American flag stands as a powerful symbol of unity, weaving together the diverse threads of the nation. Its thirteen stripes represent the unity that arose from the struggle for independence centuries ago, and the 50 stars symbolize the states' coexistence under a single national identity today. It’s something that we as a nation need to be reminded of from time to time.
This compelling essay below was written by a local Wimberley ISD senior, Ella Malone. It’s a refreshing take on the impact that the American flag holds is nothing short of powerful. Don’t let her youthfulness fool you. She has set out to boldly remind our nation of the true meaning behind the American flag and the significance it had in shaping our history!
What Are The Greatest Attributes of Our Democracy?
As Besty Ross sewed me together for the first time in 1776, I became fascinated by the stars and stripes she so intricately stitched. Knowing these shapes and their bold colors symbolized something significant, it would not be until the conclusion of the Revolutionary War in 1783 that my meaning became clearly evident. Just a few short years after the most powerful country in the world gained independence and officially became a nation, a democracy-based government formed. Following these events, I rose to prominence and began to represent the greatest attributes of this democracy: freedom, unity, representation, and bravery. I, the flag of the United States of America, became the clear and bold symbol of these unwavering characteristics.
Looking back more than two hundred years ago, we can acknowledge that had the victory against the authoritarian British Crown been unsuccessful, the foundation of America would be nothing but estranged colonies under the harsh rule of a British monarch. Our forefathers unified these colonies to stand together and achieve independence from British rule. A new country emerged and I was the iconic symbol that would represent our free nation. My stars and stripes were created and took on explicit meaning. My bright red and pure white stripes portray America’s past, symbolizing the thirteen separate colonies who declared independence from Great Britain. Stars were meticulously stitched on to my body, representing our fifty sovereign, but united, states. Each represented independently by a star of equal size on bold blue, representing the perseverance of our united and powerful nation.
Throughout our nation’s history I have flown high above battle fields, serving as an emblem of freedom and unity. Waiving in the cool air overhead on November 19, 1863, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, I witnessed President Abraham Lincoln plead with a nation recently divided by Civil War that “these dead shall not have died in vain...that this nation, under God shall have a new birth of freedom...and that the government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” It is through this established speech that my existence took on an even greater purpose of unifying a nation faced with its own internal struggles.
As our nation started to recover internally, we began to face external challenges from foes outside our country who threatened our democracy and our very existence. As I was held high in the strong hands of a young soldier on June 6, 1944 on the beach of Normandy, I observed the intense and steadfast resolve and selfless sacrifice of the men who so bravely fought for a cause greater than themselves. This resolve was further magnified by the devastating attacks on our nation on September, 11, 2001. Terrorists attempted to destroy our great country, but I was majestically raised where the twin towers once stood, hoisted in the field in Shanksville Pennsylvania, and draped over the Pentagon, all as a powerful symbol of hope and affirming that the United States of America will always persevere.
Each day countless individuals from young to old stand and face me, with their hand delicately placed over their heart, they pledge their allegiance to me. This pledge proclaims the values and freedom I so greatly represent and unites every individual, no matter their race, religion or beliefs, serving as a powerful reminder of the unwavering equality and representation that comes with the democratic values of the United States of America.
Finally, as I’m draped over the casket of a courageous soldier, one who made the greatest sacrifice of all, the significance of my role is further revealed. With immeasurable gratitude for being able to honor a fallen hero, I make sure to cover the entire casket. I cover and protect the casket with every thread, just as that fallen soldier so valiantly protected the United States of America, its Constitution and democracy. I then fold myself thirteen times into a perfect triangle and am presented to the family of the brave soldier to honor the service that was so selflessly and heroically given to our great country.
As I nobly wave in the wind I’m a constant reminder of the resiliency of the United States of America. I stand strong through every struggle, every war and eternally honor those who sacrifice for this nation. My colors, my stripes, my stars all represent the greatest attributes of our democracy: freedom, unity, representation and bravery. I proudly fly free over the sweet land of liberty.
Essay written by, Ella Malone.