Today is Flag Day, the one day a year we honor the stars and stripes...besides the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and President's Day. We love our flag here in America, to the point of fetishizing it. Whenever there is a national emergency or a war, the flag making industry gets very happy. After 9/11, stores couldn't keep flags on their shelf. It's understandable. While not as cool as the machete on the flag of Angola and it doesn't look like Pac-Man like Nepal's flag, it's still pretty. Red and Blue are nice complementary colors and white goes with everything, (only before Labor Day). Over the centuries a mystique has grown up around Old Glory. So, put down that lighter hippie and don't burn the flag today. Here are some facts and myths about the Star Spangled Banner.
The Betsy Ross Story is B.S.
At least there is no way to prove it. Betts was a true patriot. She stood up to British troops and lost two husbands to the Revolutionary War, (The lesson: don't marry Betsy Ross during a war). She worked as an upholsterer and was well known among the founding fathers. I guess she embroidered their gout cushions or something. The story about her sewing the first flag didn't appear until 1876, during the centennial celebrations. Her grandson William J. Canby showed up with some papers that he said proved his granny had made the first flag for George Washington. These papers were likely forgeries and there is no corroborating evidence to back up the story. Betsy did make flags in Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War, she just didn't make the flag. Probably.
Robert G. Heft's B-
In 1958, the United States was getting ready to admit Hawaii to the Union. The problem was that they needed to figure out a way to shove in one more star. So, the government had a contest to design the new flag. Robert G. Heft was a 17 year old kid going to high school in Ohio. His a-hole teacher Stanley Pratt had the kids turn in designs for the new flag as a class project. He gave Heft a B-. When the flag became one of the finalist for the emblem of the most powerful country on Earth, Heft went to Pratt and asked him to give him an A. Pratt told him that he'd only consider it if congress accepted the design. What's a guy got to do to get an A in that dude's class? He kept his promise and changed the grade to an A, but still, what a d-bag.
You Can Actually Burn The Flag
When I was a kid there was a big controversy over flag burning. Hippies and other unwashed middle class kids liked to burn the flag in protest of American policies. Conservative types didn't cotton to this disrespect of the stars and bars. They tried to pass laws that made it a federal offense to burn the flag. The problem is that you are supposed to burn the flag if it gets too messed up. It's considered bad form to just throw the flag away, so the most dignified way to dispose of it is to burn it like at a viking funeral. Who wouldn't want to go out that way?
There Are 6 American Flags On The Moon
Ours isn't the only flag on the moon, but we have the most up there. In 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted the American flag on the moon. I guess we were claiming the moon for America. As if to reinforce the point, we left 5 more. Along with the first moon landing, Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 all left flags on the moon's barren surface. The Soviet Union, the European Union, and India also have flags on the moon, but who cares? The EU is falling apart, the Soviet Union doesn't exist anymore, and none of them actually landed on the moon. They sent them via satellite. The moon is ours, fools! USA! USA! USA!
The Flag As Idol Worship
The Jehovah's Witnesses will not salute the flag or display it in their homes. Is it because they are filthy commies? No, it's because they think it's idol worship. It's hard to argue that the flag has become the most visible symbol of America's civil religion. I mean, we pledged allegiance to the flag every day from kindergarten through high school. We didn't swear loyalty to America, but to the flag itself. Along with the JW's, many people have questioned whether flags being displayed in houses of worship is a violation of the separation of church and state. When I was a kid, every day before mass the altar boys would put up the flag of the U.S. and the flag of the Vatican. Then again they also turned bread and wine into Jesus up on the altar, so them displaying the flag doesn't seem so weird.