Familiar colors evoke thoughts of sky-lined fireworks, and family celebrations: watermelon, charcoal, and water-soaked laughter. The colors belong to our flag and depend on each other to represent the whole. Routes to city halls and along roadways are lined with red, white, and blue – Memorial Day has passed, and July 4thawaits, so my daughter asks if it’s a holiday. Flag Day, I respond, and she googles a better description than I provide from the driver’s seat.
“In the United States, Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress.” I add that today is also the birthday of our current President, The United States Army, and my uncle who served in the Air Force. My daughter especially likes that it’s the President’s birthday. She decides he’ll most likely celebrate with his family in Florida.
Recently D-Day brought to our attention the heroic efforts of our men and women who wear the flag on their uniforms. The monumental anniversary reached 75 years, and everyone who caught a news clip or headline – heard and saw veterans who experienced that day. The bravery and stories of those who landed on Omaha Beach evoked extreme emotion for us who have only read about it. Thanks to Ken Burns, American historian and documentarian, those heroes and their heroic feats of freedom will not be forgotten.
Did you know that Burns carries in his pocket a mini-ball from Antietam along with a brass button from a WWII uniform? He explained that, “If we forget; we allow another narrative.”
When Burns mentioned this on the Today Show, it made me think about the characters in “Jumpin’ the Rails!” and how an artifact in their pocket enables them to time travel. They go back, experience history first-hand, and it changes their lives – how they think about situations and respond to people around them. Outside of historical fiction and nonfiction works we use artifacts, documentaries, and visits to historical sites to gain better understanding of the history behind our flag and in turn our history shapes our response to others, our Country, and our freedom.
Queen Elizabeth also addressed the D-Day Anniversary crowds at Normandy saying “hundreds of thousands of young soldiers, sailors and airmen left these shores in the cause of freedom.” The phrase from her speech that stood out the most was “cause of freedom”. For those who serve, for those who fought, for those who died wearing our flag, now and throughout history, theirs was and is the “cause of freedom”.