The Grand Old Lady across the 501

Story and photos
by Linda Henderson

The Grand Old Lady has hung proudly from flag poles all over these 50 states for many years, but on occasion she has been lowered from that lofted position and carried with Americans to foreign fields and distant places.

She has been dragged across muddy European fields. She has been drenched in young men’s blood on far-away beaches. She was raised by American soldiers during and after winning battles. She has been carried though Asian jungles. She was there when brother killed brother. Desert sands have blasted her stars and stripes; and yet she still flies high and proudly across our land. Soldiers have brought her home and carried her streaming as they ran to the opens arms of their loved ones.

Old Glory has seen sad mommas and daddies and grieving wives and husbands as her cloth draped caskets of American heroes. Her stars and stripes have been folded in crisp precision and handed off to crying families over graves of heroic young American fighters. She has been lowered countless times as a whole nation or state mourned the loss of school children, 9/11 casualties and fearless victims of senseless violence, or at the sad departing of a selfless community leader. Yet, our flag has also seen good times and celebrations.

The Stars and Stripes have been carried proudly at the start of a hometown parade by a horse rider dressed in full western regalia. She has been waved as floats and beauty queens made their way down Main Street. She has flown when great skyscrapers are topped out. Boy Scouts have learned the valuable lesson of proper and customary handling and disposal when Old Glory is retired.

The Red, White and Blue is seen at local schools and government buildings displayed from sunrise to sunset. Homes and business display her at their front door. She flies at the rugged Atlantic sea coast, in New England, down through the Gulf Coast, over the South, across the heartland and Great Plains. She sees the mountains, the desert areas; she proudly decorates the Alamo. She is seen in the northern states and flies on ships and boats in the Great Lakes. She is displayed in the West; she has seen the sunshine on the Pacific Coast. She is in small towns, large cities and rural outposts.

The Star-Spangled Banner is the emblem of freedom at all our borders. She has been torn and burned. Her old, tattered ancestors who lack the current number of stars and stripes are being safely tucked away and stored in great museums. Many songs have been written about her; she is the subject of many poems, stories and essays.

Photographers are always trying to catch her beauty and majesty. She has seen the moon, and she remains there, proclaiming we were there first. Presidents and powerful men still salute her. Fireworks celebrate her colors each year on the Fourth of July. On June 14, since 1777, our nation takes time to be inspired by our national emblem.

So, on this day, let’s all celebrate the 50 stars and 13 stripes in the 501. Let’s all remember that Old Glory is the symbol of freedom and God’s blessing on the greatest nation ever seen.

Linda Henderson
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