by David Tavel
Yesterday was Flag Day. Did you miss it?
We do a lot with flags. True, they are just
symbols, but symbols, be they patriotic,
religious, organizational, whatever, play
noticeable roles in our life. Some of those
roles go back to the origins of the first
Imagine a Roman army organized into
ranks and files going into battle. Amid the
clash of arms, the cries of charging warriors,
the shrieks of the wounded, comes
the need for some orders. How do you
identify the leader who gives those orders,
and how do you transmit the orders to
lesser officers, and so on down the line?
Doubtless it was necessity which gave
birth to the idea of waving a pole above
the din of battle, and on that pole hanging
colored cloths or objects which communicated
those orders. A metallic eagle or a
flag at least showed where one's leader
Flags became identified with persons of
leadership, and over the centuries specific
colors became associated not only with
particular leaders and their chosen successors,
but with the characteristics supposedly
displayed by the rulers. For example,
red became associated with strength
and bravery, white symbolized peace and
honesty, and blue stood for loyalty and
justice. Hmmm, wonder why I picked
those three colors!
At the time of the outbreak of the American
revolution each colony had its own
flag, and many groups of organized armed
volunteers went into battle with their own
banner. Words on many otherwise plain
banners stated grievances against English
king George the Third. Some became
highly popular such as the flag which proclaimed
"Don't Tread on Me."
With the 4 July 1776 proclamation by
the Continental Congress of independence
it seemed only natural that we would
have a national flag. The congressmen
therefore passed a flag act: "Resolved that
the flag of the thirteen United States be
thirteen stripes alternate red and white,
that the union be thirteen stars, white on
a blue field." Why these colors? We hinted
at them above, but Congress was specific.
"White signifies Purity and Innocence.
Red, Hardiness and Valor, Blue, Vigilance,
Perseverance, and Justice."
The design of the flag has been credited
to Francis Hopkinson, a member of the
Continental Congress and who had been
a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
As for the colors, it is reasonable to
conclude that we borrowed them from
another small but free country, the
Netherlands, whose flag consists of three
horizontal bars, from top to bottom red,
white and blue. And who made the first
flag? Legend has it that it was Betsy Ross,
and she gave it thirteen stars and thirteen
But what do you do when the number of
states grows? "Simple" was the answer in
1795 after Vermont and Kentucky had
become states. Fifteen stars and fifteen
stripes. So when you next sing our national
anthem and the words "... whose
broad stripes and bright stars were so gallantly
streaming..." please note there were
15 stripes, not 13 when Francis Scott Key
wrote the words.
Those fifteen stripes remained until
1818 when our congressmen apparently
tired of the striped pajamas look, and decreed
"That the Flag of the United States
be 13 horizontal stripes, alternate red and
white, and that on the admission of every
State into the Union, one star to be added
on the Fourth of July next succeeding admission."
Now we're up to 50! Have we, as
in the words from the musical "Oklahoma,"
gone about as far as we can go?
'Tis a puzzlement. (Now which musical is
that line from?)
ED QUILLEN, 1950-2012
We end this article by paying respect to
the journalist and author whose columns
were usually the most enlightening material
on the editorial pages of the Denver
Post. By my count he worked for a total of
eight publications, at least two of which
he owned. To that could be added several
books he co-authored or wrote himself.
The best conclusion is to let Quillen
speak for himself. The following paragraphs
are taken at random from his 1998
volume "Deep in the Heart of the Rockies,"
available at the Estes Valley Library.
"One problem with being a Coloradan is
that nobody believes you. I was born in
Greeley; the building that was then the
Weld County Hospital [was] less than a
block from my apartment the year I was
editor of the campus paper.
It was there that I got a telephone call
one day berating me for some left-leaning
editorial (isn't that what college newspapers
are for?), and among my flaws was
that I was "some radical from the East."
Patiently I pointed out that I was standing
just a few yards from my birthplace, that I
had attended Greeley's public schools, and
that Greeley itself was founded as a sort of
commune in 1870 by a bunch of idealists.
"Don't go trying to put one over on me
by making stuff up," the caller warned.
Well, being from Colorado isn't something
that anybody would make up. . . . When I
was a kid, Colorado seemed to have the
same reputation that, say, North Dakota
has today --- a backwater that talented
people fled . . . . it was assumed that if you
wanted to amount to anything you'd
Ed Quillen did not leave, we are all his
Friday, June 15, 2012
Meet & Greet For
Kevin Lundberg, candidate for the 2 nd
Congressional District, will attend a
"Meet & Greet" at the home of William
& Judy Howell,
on Friday, June
22, 2012, between
The "Meet &
Greet" will occur
Estes Park and
all are welcome.