The Flag and Other Symbols

 

Like many Americans, I fly the flag from my porch. Even with a high quality sewn nylon flag, after about a year, it begins to look a bit tired and starts to fade. Yesterday I replaced the old one, and my son asked me, “What’s the big deal about a flag? I could see it if we were in the 14th century charging on horseback with spears and swords, but why is it such a big deal?”

Interesting question, and I’m not sure I was able to adequately answer, but here’s what I tried.

There are certain things that are bigger than we are, and they often are beliefs. It could be faith, patriotism or some other value – we can’t discern them directly, so we use symbols to represent them. It’s not the flag itself but the ideals that it stands for that makes the flag important.

He wasn’t entirely satisfied with that explanation, but I believe that’s to be expected. It takes a certain maturity and wisdom to understand that there are ideas and values more important than any one person. Sadly, it seems as though some people never make that leap and are doomed to being limited to loving power or wealth or other material things.

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