America's Star Spangled Banner Flag is undergoing surgery from years
of wounds. But what is the greatest wound any flag can suffer?
Isn't it disrespect, dishonor? How can we all honor what a
flag stands for? Perhaps by looking at it as the Flag of
Vigilance, and saluting it for our Children's Children's Children.
4, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 660
America's Fading Flag Of Spangled
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--July 4, 2003--
A hundred and ninety years ago a 30 x 42 foot flag flew with 15
26-inch stars and 15 red and white stripes over Ft. McHenry in
Baltimore, Md. It inspired Francis Scott
Key to write what has become our national anthem, The Star Spangled
Banner, as the British retreated in 1814 to mark the end of the War of
and fifteen stripes represent a history of standing up for America
not ripping it apart
Today, however, that fragile ghost of a flag is in cardiac
arrest, struggling for life at the Smithsonian Institution. The
world's best "flag surgeons," surgically weave the
threads of life back into the battle-worn symbol of America's struggle
to remain independent from the Beast of Terror. Their goal:
to put "spangles" back in American Vigilance.
Prior to the attack on the World Trade Center, the
Pentagon, and the ill-fated crash of Flight 93 that was headed for the
White House on September 11, 2001, the only other foreign invasion
upon American soil was the War of 1812.
During that conflict, the British sought to take back the colony that
revolted against the tyranny and oppression of monarchial leadership.
The great symbol of their failure was the giant flag flying over Ft.
McHenry, shouting triumphantly to the world that Vigilance triumphed over Terrorism.
Ironically, the British war ships sailed into Baltimore
and set off alarms within the city on Sunday, September 11, 1814.
Americans sank ships in the harbor to keep the invading British from
landing, thwarting their planned invasion.
Bombarding Ft. Henry, the British thought they had
silenced the guns there until three days later the giant flag we now
Star Spangled Banner Flag was raised,
a symbol to all that Ft. Henry was still in tact.
Key seeing the Flag still flying above Fort McHenry was inspired
to write the words to the Star Spangled Banner
Francis Scott Key, aboard a truce ship seeking the
release of an American prisoner from the British, saw the giant flag
and drafted a poem that was turned into song and, in 1931 was
proclaimed by an Act of Congress our national anthem.
The "Star Spangled Flag," the icon of America's
first great battle with the "outside world," cost $405.90 for the 400
yards of material and labor it took to manufacture it back in 1813.
The flag was so large its final sewing was done on a
brewery floor. In economic contrast, today's renovation
and preservation of the flag is budgeted for over $80 million.
Scarred and battered by time as well as carrying
the wound of a rip in its field of 15 two-foot stars from a
canon attack on Ft. Henry, the flag's fabric over the past 19 decades
has weakened to a critical state. The repair work is
slow and dangerous. The material has thinned due to light and the
complex chemicals in the air that erode its fabric's strength.
Currently 30 x 32 feet in size, the flag was cut
when lowered in 1814 by citizens who wanted to keep a piece of it as a
souvenir of its historic importance.
fixing the flag in 1914
Its maker was not the
famous Betty Ross, but a woman named Mary Pickersgill and her daughter who labored to piece the
English bunting into 15 broad stripes and stars that inspired Francis
Scott Key to write his tribute. The flag is rare because
it is one of the few that carries 15 stars and stripes.
In 1818 Congress enacted a law to limit the
stripes of the flag to thirteen, and including a new star for each new
state. All new flags representing new states would be
unfurled on the Fourth of July.
Today, July 4, 2003, marks a celebration of the
Battle of the Beast of Terror.
Commonly, we call this "Independence Day."
Truly, it is far more than that. It is Vigilance Day.
Independence suggests were are free from
something. It's opposite is Dependence.
America has never been "free" of the dangers of
the Beast of Terror neither here nor abroad.
Unlike other nations in the world, America has
evolved into a Sentinel of Vigilance rather than a conquering nation
seeking to build an empire from its might.
From Rome forward, the empire-building nature of
nations included conquering the land and people, sweeping them under
their rule and protection and forcing them to pay tribute.
America has never been "independent" from the
role of protecting "liberty," neither within its own borders
It has been, since its inception, a Vigilance
Warrior, constantly attacking the Beast of Terror where ever he or she
One of the most bloody of wars against the Beast
of Terror was fought on our own soil during the Civil War.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans died to remove the tyranny of
slavery, and to set America on a road toward equal rights for all
citizens, exampled by recent Supreme Court decisions that sweep over
race, color, creed and sexual preference.
Liberty Bell signaled the dawn of the Birth of Vigilance on July
Not everyone in America has agreed with the
Principles of Vigilance this country embossed upon its soul back on
July 4, 1776 when the Liberty Bell rang, signaling the dawn of the
Birth of Vigilance.
America has battled from within, clashing between
liberal and conservative poles, evolving into a nation that examples the
Principles of Democracy within its own borders, and thus has the right
to carry those principles to other lands where tyranny and oppression
Not all of America's attempts to secure democracy in a
world of oppression and tyranny have been successful. The
failure to win the Vietnam War, for example, might have blemished the
political agendas of those who ruled during that era and fractured the
nation's populace into pro- and con- camps, but the ideal of
Vigilance--to free others from tyranny--has survived.
Both Gulf Wars, the first to stop the invasion of
a helpless country by a tyrant, and the second to stop the threat of
Terrorism from spreading while liberating a nation ruled by
oppression, symbolize that America's struggles to fight the Beast of
Terror are not over.
It wasn't over in World War I or World War II or
during the Korean Conflict.
America has never been "independent" from
Part of the character of Americans is to not turn
their backs to the troubles of the world as did
France and Germany, two of our greatest allies whom we helped free
from the grips of Hitler's tyranny.
The recent decision to support Liberia, West
Africa, in its battle with both civil and foreign strife, suggests
once more that America is not "independent" of the world's threats.
North Korea's Kim Jong Il is not independent to
build nuclear weapons. Iran is not independent to threaten the
Critics of American policy are quick to
question our right or authority to intervene in the affairs of other
nations. The United Nations, during the recent controversy
about supporting the U.S.-British invasion of Iraq, refused to
Vigilance is about the Courage to act in
the face of Fear, the Conviction to stand up to the Intimidation of
another or others, and the guiding of Right Actions that benefit the
Children's Children's Children rather than succumb to the bile of
National Monument and Historic Shrine in Maryland
America has, historically, flown the
Flag of Vigilance over the Fear, Intimidation and Complacency that
other nations throughout the world have chosen. No
other body of citizens in the world has ever offered their lives so
freely to sustain Liberty than Americans.
This is not an act of "independence"
but an act of Vigilance.
When I went to Vietnam, I went with
the belief I was going to help "free" people from the bonds and
manacles of tyranny. I was fortunate to have witnessed the first
free election in that country's history. I watched villagers
pour out of the jungles despite the threats of the North Vietnamese
that they would be killed if they cast their Vigilance Votes.
Part of the people's Courage,
Conviction and Right Action was based on American troops set up around
the voting polls to protect the villagers from attack as they voted.
I often think of a fellow Marine who died in my arms that day.
He gave his life so others could vote their "independence."
Vigilance won the war in Vietnam,
even though politically we were unsuccessful in casting out the
tyranny of the land. I often get chills up my spine when I
see a Vietnamese elected to high political office here in the United
States. It is a reminder to me that those who escaped their
country's oppression found here, on our soil, that which we sought to help them establish in their homeland.
guarantees the Right to Dissent
leading nations turned their backs on support for the U.S., and when
American protestors likened President Bush to Adolph Hitler for
invading Iraq, and claimed the war was about American capitalism and
empire building, I squirmed in my skin. It seemed so
hard to restrain my anger and disappointment in those who use the
Right of Dissent as an excuse for the denigration of democracy, with
its singular purpose to destroy
the edifices of Liberty by accusing them as being rotten.
Vigilance, however, always comes to
my rescue for it means I must often have the Courage to not deny the
most vile and bilious protestors: the ones who throw dung at the
American Flag and defecate upon the symbol as though it were a
Swastika, and allow that person the right to express the horror of
insolence against all the legacies of Freedom without seeking
retaliation for such disrespect, for such dishonor to all who have
fought and died so that the protestor may burn the flag, or call
America and its institutions by names that, in any other
not-so-tolerant land, would result in the protestor's execution,
torture or beheading.
America's Vigilance is not pure.
Our flag bleeds. The red in it include all those who have
fought to right America when it lists too far left or right.
But the heroes of American history are not those who fault America,
who burn its flag, who demean its principles.
The great heroes of America are those
Vigilant citizens who find more good than bad in the flag, and what it
represents. Martin Luther King did not rise to
glorification on the ashes of flags he burned, or by trying to cripple
the Principles of Democracy. He honored the nation's
foundations, and reminded the world of the Visions of Vigilance, that
we can overcome our failings, rise above our defects.
Vigilance is a
state of Right Action: Raising the flag
He did not attempt to destroy. He put
his efforts into rebuilding.
That's why, on this day, July 4, 2003, it
is important to look at the Fading Flag of Vigilance--the Star
Spangled Banner Flag's 15 stars and 15 stripes
represent a history of standing up for America, not ripping it apart.
It also reminds us all that "independence" does not mean we are free
from our duty to be Vigilant. It means we are free from tyranny
and oppression to be and act with Vigilance.
While "independence" is a state of
being, Vigilance is a state of action.
Help keep the
Flag of Vigilance flying for your Children's Children's
Children this Independence Day and everyday
respect the flag, who honor it for what it represents, see America as
a nation that is evolving, moving closer each day toward a more
state, where all its citizens are Citizens of Vigilance, Mothers and
Fathers of Vigilance, Loved Ones of Vigilance.
Perhaps one day, when this happens,
the fabric in the Star Spangled Banner will regain its original
strength, and instead of a few people sewing it back into prime
condition, the flag will be sewn by the Parents of Vigilance who have
the Courage, Conviction and take the Right Action to salute the flag,
not demean it.
You can strengthen a stitch in the Star
Spangled Banner today. Take the Pledge of Vigilance.
It will insure the American Flag, the Flag of Vigilance, keeps flying
for your Children's Children's Children.
July 3--Terror On The Golf Course
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