When I was in the fifth grade I participated in (and, shockingly, won) the Modern Woodmen Of America speech contest. The topic we were given was "My Favorite Symbol of Freedom", and I chose to speak about the American flag. While I could have recited the speech in its entirety up through the time I graduated from high school, now I can only remember that I spoke about the history of the flag and its symbolism.
While there is debate about whether or not all of the symbolism currently ascribed to the flag was actually intended at the time it was originally created, here is what my fifth grade self said about it:
- the stars: one for each state
- 13 stripes represented the 13 original colonies
- red: stands for valor and bravery, and the blood that was shed that enabled this country to be formed
- white: stands for purity and innocence
- blue: stands for vigilance, perseverance, and justice
The thing about my fifth grade self though, is that she didn't entirely understand what all those words actually meant. And to be perfectly honest, my 36 year old self doesn't always entirely understand what all those words mean. My 36 year old self would give a different speech though.
I would still talk about the flag and its symbolism. I would also talk about how the things it represents are lived out daily by the men and women who serve our country and defend its ideals despite the danger doing so often puts them in. I would talk about their families who sacrifice so much and get so little (in comparison to what they truly deserve) in return. I would talk about the living, breathing symbols of freedom living among us. Here are a few of those symbols:
David Martin - Marines Roy Martin - Marines Shawn Bingham -Navy
(TheHusband is not pictured because I don't have a picture of him in uniform, and because he's kind of on the private side and has previously asked not to be pictured on the blog. And my father-in-law isn't pictured because I don't have a picture of him in uniform either.)
I thank each of you, and all service members and their families, for your service to our country. We are in your debt.