Stars and Stripes Forever? What I Learned Studying the U.S. Flag

With all the controversy swirling about the American flag, I decided to do a little research. I must confess that I always have taken for granted the red, white, and blue colors with the stars and stripes, but not anymore. I am not attempting to engage in politics of the right or left.

What I write is spiritual rather than political with the hope of finding a sense of peace and purpose where we could not find it before.

What does it all mean?

It has been written that the colors used in the Great Seal for the United States of America, first authorized by the Continental Congress in 1776, are the colors used in the flag. White represents purity and innocence, red signifies hardiness and valor, and blue stands for vigilance, perseverance, and justice. Regardless of where we live or who we are, these certainly are honorable traits to embrace and to share in all times by the way we live because as we ponder these traits, we discover their unifying force—LOVE.

Purity and innocence may seem trite by today’s earthly standards. However, we should hold onto these values just as we should onto the truth that all people are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Embedded within these values and rights is our Creator’s love—a love that is freely given to each of us.

 

What we do with our Creator’s love is determined by our free will. We can reject it or we can hold onto this love as though we are holding our Creator’s hand, united together in our life’s joys, works, and even in our sorrows. There is no guarantee we will find the happiness we pursue on earth, however, with our Creator’s love we will never lose heart.

Our heart is the center of who we are, the depth of our being. To be pure in heart allows our Creator’s love to thrive within us and be the driving force in our lives. The love endowed by our Creator infuses within us valor and hardiness—the strength of mind and spirit—that protects and prevents our hearts from hardening as we face difficulties and sacrifices that come our way.

This virtue of fortitude enables us to persevere and remain vigilant so we can preserve, protect, and defend this great love, made manifest in humanity and in nature’s wonders. “The beauty of creation reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator” (CCC 341) and we are made in the image and likeness of our Creator. Therefore, our purpose is to be willing and faithful stewards as we are called to care for and cultivate life with love.

Sharing our Creator’s love, we uphold the virtue of justice by respecting the rights and equality of one another and safeguarding our common good. This love overtakes the evil that finds its way into the world through hearts and minds that have been embittered by the corruptions of earthly temptations. Conquering evil with love liberates the human psyche and renews life with the faith and hope that emanate from eternal goodness.

What awaits us?

I have not forgotten the stars and stripes of the American flag. The stars and stripes do more than represent the makeup and history of the United States (50 states and the original 13 colonies respectively). They also draw our sights above and beyond our own lives to aspirations of a greater kind. The star is symbolic of the heavens and the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light from the sun.

Like the sun and stars, the light of our Creator shines upon us. This divine light guides us in our daily living and in our search for the meaning of our existence. If we choose to follow this light, then we choose to walk the path that our Creator has laid out for us to escape the corruption and evil desires that exist in the world.

With this choice also comes responsibility and purpose. “Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love.” [2 Peter 1:5-7] By doing so, we partake in the divine nature our Creator provides for the sake of our salvation and the salvation of the world. Then we too become beacons of light to help those who have lost their way and their heart for truly living.

In hearts and minds forever

What we do with our unalienable rights is up to each of us. However, let us always remember that the rights, freedoms, and values that have been bestowed upon us from above are precious gifts of love. These gifts need our constant care and attention in our heart and mind.

What’s more, with the greatness of this love comes mercy and forgiveness which are offered to us to accept for ourselves and to share with one another, especially as we live through these times of derision and division. For it is through mercy and forgiveness that we can achieve unity in our times with peace of mind and heart for our sake and the sake of common good. Perhaps what I have written expresses ideals that may seem out of reach. They are not.

All things are possible when we are united with God our Creator. Whether we commit ourselves to a specific cause or commit random acts of kindness, we can use our rights, free-doms, and values to make life and our homeland better not just for today, but for generations to come. Whatever we endure along the way will not be in vain.

Should we abdicate our responsibilities, history reminds us of the destruction that evil desires cause. Those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to free us from this destruction leave us their inspiration to carry on. May we do so with purity in heart, strength of mind and spirit, and perseverance to preserve, protect, and defend all that God holds dear, now and forevermore.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Carol Monaco

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For 17 years, Carol has been the writer/editor of Journey to Our Ladya spiritual publication that helps readers seek out a closer relationship to our Blessed Mother, who draws the faithful closer to the Holy Trinity.  From her JourneyCarol has authored Treasures of the Rosary and Heavenly Mother Help Me; Prayers, Poetry and Prose for Daily Living, as companions for individuals trying to live their faith every day.  Carol is an independent writer and speaker. Her devotional columns can be found in Liguorian magazine, CatholicStand.com, Catholic365.com, BigPulpit.com, and Array of Hope. Carol’s spiritual reflections, poetry, and prayers are available on her web site: www.journeytoourlady.com and on Twitter: @journey2ourlady.

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