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Harris Blackwood: I choose to believe in the flag that Besty Ross made by hand
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

I never saw George Washington cross the Deleware, but I believe he did. I don’t know for certain that he didn’t tell a lie, but I believe he was an honest man.

I’ve never seen the North Pole and Santa’s workshop, but I believe that Santa Claus has brought lots of joy to the world.

I don’t know the connection between a bunny and eggs, but I love to watch kids hunt for them around Easter.

I also believe in Betsy Ross.

A few years ago, I went with my daughter to Philadelphia. I had been there before and we walked down to the Liberty Bell and to the hall where Lyman Hall, George Walton and Button Gwinnett, along with 53 others signed the Declaration of Independence.  On a previous trip, I walked by the house where Betsy Ross reportedly made the first flag. I asked a U.S. Park ranger for directions.

“Why do you even want to go there?” he asked. “The story is not true.”

It cut through me like a knife. It was like someone told me that George Washington was a lying scoundrel and that Santa Claus was a phony. Quite frankly, Mr. Ranger, you hurt my feelings.

Somebody sewed the flag of our new nation and it might as well be Betsy Ross.

Last week, we had the observance of Flag Day. The truth is, every day should be Flag Day. At my office, I can look out the window and see the flag flying over the State Capitol. From another window, I can see Liberty Plaza, where the original flag, the Betsy Ross flag, is encircled by the flags of the 13 original colonies. I have visited in all 13 states and I sometimes look at those state flags and think of good memories of a trip there.

On more days than I would like to remember, I have seen all of those flags flying at half-staff to remember the death of a person or persons. We have flown it in memory of Georgians killed in uniform. Some were wearing the uniform of a branch of the armed services. Others were wearing the uniform of a police or sheriff’s agency.

We have also lowered our flags for the massacres that have occurred at public venues, like schools, where many lives were lost.

The flag is also lowered on Memorial Day, when we honor those who paid the supreme sacrifice in times of war.

Francis Scott Key wrote a poem about the flag as we were fighting the war of 1812. He wrote his poem, “The Defense of Fort McHenry,” on the back of an envelope. He eventually passed it on to his brother-in-law Judge Joseph Nicholson. It was Nicholson who set the poem to a tavern song, “To Anacreon in Heaven.”

Anacreon was an ancient Greek poet who was known for his drinking songs and odes to love. He was sort of an ancient Merle Haggard.

Our flag and the anthem written about it has been the subject of great debate in the past year or so.  There have been times that I didn’t particularly care for the direction of our nation, but it never kept me from getting a lump in my throat when I see that flag waving, either in gleaming peace or dreaded sorrow. Maybe when we feel that sense of negativity, we should sing the last verse of the anthem.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand

Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!

Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land

Praise the power that had made and preserv’d us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave


Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose column publishes on Sundays.

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