By: Copy Editor + Editorial Team Lead Joyce S.

Since we first enter the American school system, we are asked to pledge our allegiance to a three-by-five-foot flag decorated with a simple, but iconic, thirteen-stripe, fifty-star design. But why does this piece of cloth mean so much to American culture, and how has the flag’s value changed since its creation in 1777?
            At the end of the funeral service, a group of sharply uniformed soldiers enters in perfect step with one another. With almost frightening detail and grace, they then begin the ceremonial folding of the flag. If you have ever witnessed or attended the funeral of a U.S. veteran, you probably watched as the soldiers gently placed the newly shaped cloth on the casket, but what most people don’t realize is that during this folding, one of the most prolific eulogies was silently said. All thirteen folds of the flag provide their own meaning, spanning from a reference to the purity of life or giving thanks to the fallen soldier for their service. Considering all the power behind each stitch and each fold of the American flag, this action provides a sense of comfort for those in mourning; their death is not in vain.
Hardiness and valor are painted across the flag in a vibrant red, followed by purity and innocence as symbolized by white, and lastly, the striking blue signifies perseverance, vigilance, and justice. Once again, such profound meaning is left to be spoken by an inanimate object, which is why I believe that those who created the flag did not see it as an object but as a symbol of America’s goals, core beliefs, and priorities. In fact, the official U.S flag code says “The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.” At first, the idea of considering the flag as a living being seems almost laughable, but now that I know how much the flag stands for, I am beginning to understand the importance of respecting it to the fullest extent.    
One beauty comes from the example of a veteran's funeral. If the flag is truly a living thing, then that means your country is with you both during and after life, never allowing your service to be forgotten. The flag code also states, “The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free” which references America’s desire for freedom. I see the flag as a personification of what this country’s citizens want America to be, and the ability to hope and strive for the ideal America is patriotic in its own sense.
Although we do not abide by as many flag rules as Americans did in the past, I believe that our general feelings towards the flag are still strong. But, I wish that the deeper meanings of the flag were more publicly known. The thirteen stripes and fifteen stars do much more than symbolize the colonies and states, they are the colonies and states and they represent every American citizen past, present, and future proudly in a blazing display of red, white, and blue.

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