Research: Maybe Flag Day can pull us together

Print Article

What is it about flags that can elicit so much emotion?

Flags aren’t the only symbols of nationalism or clan-feeling. Yet all around the world, the one which provokes the most feeling is undeniably that colored strip of cloth.

One hundred years after our first flag was adopted by act of Congress on June 14, 1777, the first Flag Day was observed.

You’ve probably read that Gen. George Washington asked seamstress Betsy Ross to sew a flag similar to the Grand Union battle flag of 1776. That was a circle with 13 white stars in the canton (upper left corner) against a blue background, and a field (background color) of 13 stripes alternating red and white, first representing the number states. Over time, the stripes stuck to a practical 13, and the stars performed that function.

But did you know:

Wood. The earliest flags discovered by archaeologists date more than two millennia and were made of wood, metal, or stone.

Rome, again. As far as we know, the earliest textile flag appeared around the Third Century C.E. and came from that civilization from which modern democracies derive, ancient Rome.

Colors. Red, perhaps symbolizing bravery and strength, is the most popular flag color, appearing on nearly 75 percent of flags around the world. White is a close second, said to symbolize peace and honesty. Blue (truth and justice) appears on about half of national flags. Some nations use green (hope and love) to symbolize religious beliefs.

Signals. Flags were used throughout history, including by navies at sea, as signals for communication across great distances.

Right write. The hoist is the edge of the flag nearest the pole. Flags are generally hoisted on the side corresponding with writing — so for cultures whose languages are written from left to right, flags are also hoisted on the left, and vice versa.

No size fits all. Flag size and shape are anything but uniform, with some extra wide and others square. The biggest flag ever flown is said to be a U.S. flag at the 1886 Olympic torch relay at Hoover Dam — 255 feet by 505 feet. According to the United Kingdom Flag Institute, the biggest constantly flying is in Brazil, at 230 feet by 328 feet.

More than a simple piece of cloth, perhaps what a national flag most represents is common history and ideals. So to celebrate Flag Day, may we set aside any differences and focus on what unites us.

•••

Today’s weird word: Vexillology — the study of flags.

•••

Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Contact her at Sholeh@cdapress.com.

Print Article

Read More Sholeh Patrick

Research: Is your writing logical?

July 11, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press If you’re a doctor or nurse, you get it too — that involuntary inner shudder when someone in a social situation says, “I have this pain …” Asking for cocktail party diagnoses is not cool. It puts the...

Comments

Read More

Opinion: North Idaho drivers head wrong way on kindness

July 09, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press With family in several countries “across the pond,” as the Brits say, I’ve learned that all drivers aren’t created equal. There is a certain driving culture unique to each place — a set of expectatio...

Comments

Read More

Playing with fire? Then do it right

July 04, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Happy birthday, America! The weather is set to be just about perfect. Today we’ll consume 150 million hot dogs, 700 pounds of chicken, and more beer than any other holiday, according to Wallethub’s...

Comments

Read More

Research: Pet lessons from the fiery Fourth

July 02, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press I wish I’d written this six years ago. If we’d been better informed, little Liebling the cat would still be scampering about the house. Cuddling at bedtime. Playfully getting underfoot. July is Lo...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2019 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X