Friday, June 14, 2013

You're A Grand Ol' Flag

So it's Friday, June 14.

In recent days, TigerBlog has touched on such varied subjects as getting a little too close to a crop-duster, his close encounter with a vicious killer (and possibly poisonous) turtle and making a right turn on a red light (and possibly a left turn on a red light).

So what else is there to write about?

How about Flag Day?

TigerBlog loves the flag. Great color scheme. Great idea for the stars and stripes. It's a beautiful flag.

And today's its birthday. The Continental Congress officially adopted the flag on June 14, 1777, which was 236 years ago today.

As everyone knows, Betsy Ross made the first flag, which had 13 stars - one for each colony - in a circle. If you believe everything you see on TV, then Bugs Bunny gave her the idea for the stars when he stepped on a rake.

Of course, there are those who believe that Betsy Ross didn't actually sew the first flag, that that is just a legend and that there is no proof it's true.

So what if it is or isn't?

In all seriousness, the flag of the United States of America has been a symbol of freedom ever since it first appeared. It has flown over battlefields and battleships during fights to liberate an uncountable number of people.

The national anthem is a salute to the flag: "Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave. O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."

When TigerBlog was a kid, he spent his summers as a sleepaway camp. Every morning, the flag would be raised up the pole. Every night it would be taken down. The entire camp would gather to watch both.

Back when Pete Carril was still Princeton's men's basketball coach, TigerBlog put together the 21 best quotes that he could find. Some of them were funny. Some were serious.

Some were philosophical, like the time he said "I'll take that up with God when I get there" after being asked if Kit Mueller and/or Bob Scrabis had been fouled by Alonzo Mourning at the end of the 1989 NCAA tournament game against Georgetown, which Princeton lost 50-49.

Of all the quotes, this is the one that TB settled on as the best. It came in the winter of 1991, during Desert Storm, when the trend became to put American flags on basketball uniforms.

Princeton was one of the few holdout teams who didn't, at least until the Tigers reached the NCAA tournament that year.

When asked why, here's what Carril said:

"What good is it if you wear a flag and play like a dog? What good is it if you put a yellow ribbon on your porch or flag on your lawn and cheat on your taxes? That young guy who was killed today, he can never be replaced. All the dreams and aspirations his family had for him, they're gone. How can there be any way to balance that except for every person in this country to do the best he can to honor that hero? Maybe it's far-fetched to think that someone on the front line is concerned whether our guys go to class, but I think that's part of what they're fighting for. That if our students don't do everything in their power to keep their commitments to their parents, they're letting the whole country down. This kid who died over there today, what are you doing in your left to make sure you're worthy of him."

His point was that anyone could put a flag on a uniform.

To actually honor the flag - and the people who were making the biggest sacrifices to defend that flag and what it stands for - requires commitment.

It doesn't mean everyone has to, as Colonel Jessup said, "pick up a weapon and stand a post." It's about being the best possible person you can be, so that those who are standing a post know that what they're doing is being valued, that there's a reason for it.

And that's the power of the flag.

It's a grand ol' flag.
It's worth it every now and then to take a step back and think about what it means, and how much has been done in its honor through the centuries.

So wish it a happy birthday today. It's still looking pretty good at 236.

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