Letter to the Editor: What we run up the Flagpole

Published 5:37 pm Friday, June 14, 2024

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“Let’s run this up the flagpole” is a figure of speech for testing out the relative popularity of an idea. Literally, flags get run up flagpoles, however metaphorically, ideas get run up flagpoles as well. We’ve turned a lot of our focus to the flags at the top of flagpoles this year- especially when considering not only what a flag looks like, but what a flag stands for. All of this becomes important for us as we consider that yesterday, June 14, was Flag Day.

Flag Day honors the anniversary of the adoption of the very first flag representing the rebelling colonies in 1777. This flag became the visual representation of the notion that the colonies were “of right, and ought to be, free and independent states.” This flag not only represented a political unit, but also served as a banner advertising to the world the principles of the founding: representative democracy, unalienable human rights, self-determination, and free speech. Since 1777, this banner has stood as a beacon of hope for millions, been carried as a banner of freedom to all corners of the world, and even has been planted firmly on the surface of the moon as a testament to human achievement.

As you know, the State of Minnesota has attempted to change the design of its flag prompting discussions on how to represent people and their history. You might also know that recently a certain US Supreme Court Justice is facing public critique for flying certain flags on his property, and even for flying certain other flags upside-down. This all goes to show that flags, and what they represent when we fly them, are important and are full of meaning not to be taken lightly.

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This week, as we turn our attention to our Flag, we are reminded of all that the Flag of the United States has come to mean to people all over the world. It is said that the American Flag does not blow in the wind, but is moved by the last breath of all who died to defend it. Our flag stands proudly representing ideas worth dying to protect. The Flag, and all that it represents, requires constant maintenance from an engaged citizenry who, as John F. Kennedy reminded us, “ask not what their country can do for them, but ask what they can do for their country.”

So, happy Flag Day to you all. Long may she wave … up the flagpole.

Nick McGrath

Austin, MN