As we celebrate Presidents’ Day and the leaders that have made our country great, I wanted to reflect on the importance of flags and what they represent.
When you think of the Union Jack flying overhead what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For me, I think of imperial royalty and conquest. Ok, we all are really just thinking of the redcoats from Pirates of the Caribbean. But seriously, it’s just an historic symbol of power and prominence. It holds such value, that it still appears on 16 countries flags, several territories flags, 3 Canadian province flags and even on our Hawaiian state flag! Though many countries in the commonwealth have chosen to remove the Union Jack from their flag and create an individual identity for themselves, others have stuck with tradition. I’m not sure how I would feel if we still held the symbol of the British Empire above the White House, the Capitol Building, or any other national landmark around the country, but it is impressive the legacy that empire left behind.
The Book of Mormon details an inspiring story from 73 B.C. of a Captain named Moroni who inspired his people to defend their families from a blood thirsty army called the Lamanites. In the book of Alma, chapter 46 Moroni’s love of liberty causes the impromptu creation of maybe the oldest legitimate flag on record:
12 And it came to pass that [Moroni] rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.
13 And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land—
19 And when Moroni had said these words, he went forth among the people, waving the rent part of his garment in the air, that all might see the writing which he had written—
36 And it came to pass also, that he caused the title of liberty to be hoisted upon every tower which was in all the land…and thus Moroni planted the standard of liberty among the Nephites.
Imagine what that flag represented to those people. They were united in cause of
liberty. Since they didn’t have an overseas supplier to buy 3’x5’ nylon flags from, they had to craft their own flags. Can you imagine the unity amongst people that would create? Can you imagine if every American flag had to be hand made by the individual who wanted to fly one? You would certainly know what your neighbors stood for wouldn’t you? How about the state flag flying over a school or a government building? The men and women who took part in making them for their respective buildings would most definitely be mindful of the people that they worked for and represented. If your governor had to sew his or her own flag to be able to hang it in his office, do you think it would change the way he or she governed or whether the interests of the people who were responsible for voting him or her into office would be remembered? I can bet you they would know what each symbol on their flag represented.
Do you know what the symbols on your state’s flag represent? Do you know the origins of your state’s flag? Do the colors have meaning? Would it be news to you to know the bear on the California flag was patterned after the last remaining California Grizzly in captivity? Every flag has a story, a history, rich in tradition which are meant to represent its people and the land those people share. Learn about your past and wear and fly your state’s flag with pride. It matters to you.