I realize this post should have run a few days ago, but I think you'll still enjoy it. A friend of mine runs a family business - making flags. He's one of those people in life who make you believe that good things are still possible in this world. He sent this out to a group of us and let me reprint it here. Thanks Pete!
I have been making flags for over 50 years. My mom, dad, and grandmother were all in the flag business, and now 3 of my children are working in my company with dreams of careers in the family business. It doesn't take rocket science to make a flag. Sewing two pieces of cloth together is an ancient skill. It is what happens as the pieces join together and a flag takes shape. Magic happens. What was once a collection of rags has become a national emblem, a religious banner, a military guidon, or maybe a corporate standard. The decision to purchase a flag is not a logical one, but rather it is an emotional one. Our customers are buying national pride, ethnic identity, organizational identification, or family heratige.
In the United States of America we have a unique relationship with our flag just as we have a unique relationship with our government. Our government is a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people," The people elect their leaders and representatives, and through juries the people decide how to enforce the laws of the land. As Woody Guthrie said it, "This is my country. land that I love."
I was visiting European country some years ago when I commented on the lack of national flags on display throughout the town. My guide pointed out that people were only encouraged to fly the flag on the Queen's birthday. That flag is the Queen's flag, not the people's. In the United States, our flag just like our government does belong to the people. That is what makes us so unique. Our relationship with our flag is a living and dynamic one. That is a strength. Every important milestone in the development of our relationship with Old Glory has been a product of the people, not government. The "Star Spangled Banner," our national anthem was not commissioned by Congress. No it was composed by a young attorney (Frances Scott Key) who was overwhelmed with emotion at seeing the giant 30' X 42' flag still flying over Ft. McHenry at the dawn's early light of September 14, 1814, proving that the Americans had held off the British attack. The Pledge of Allegience to the Flag was not commissioned by Congress. No it was the brainchild of a young Baptist youth minister and editor of a youth magazine. His name was Francis Bellamy. He thought there should be a patriotic demonstation by school children on Columbus Day. In both of these cases, the government got involved long after the custom of performing the andhem and pledge was already accepted in our country. This is our flag.
So remember this 4th of July, remember that this is your country, my country, our country. It is up to us to make it the best it can be. It is up to us to see that History looks back on our time and says, "What a great job they did!" and not "What on earth were they thinking". It is up to us. Are we up to the task? Can we put fear, pettiness, and greed aside and work together to realize the promise that is freedom and Democracy in the United States of America? I believe we can.
On behalf of the Van de Puttes and the entire Dixie Flag Manufacturing Company family please let me wish you a safe, patriotic, fun-filled July 4 - the 234th birthday of our country and the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the 50 star U.S. flag. We are both proud and humbled to sew our nation's colors. Thank you for allowing us to be your flag makers.
(Pete has a nice list of flag tips here, in case you're interested.)