Patriotism and the United States Flag

United States FlagIt seems that in this age of constantly trying to be politically correct we have lost some of our core values as a country. We are a country that was created on freedom of speech, religion, press and assembly as stated in the first Amendment. The United States Flag is a representation of our nation and these freedoms. After the attack on our country on September 11, 2001 there was a resurgence of people displaying the flag to show their love of our country and patriotism. Unfortunately since then the flag has also been utilized inappropriately as a political statement.

Recently a friend of mine had an experience while waiting in line at a drive thru restaurant where she saw a United States flag sticker that was upside down. She got the driver’s attention and questioned him about this, the person’s response was “Yep, I’m anti Obama,” her response was “Oh, I’m so confused. I didn’t know disliking our president meant being anti- American.” To which the driver responded with an inappropriate gesture. Two days before I heard about her experience I was attending a flag retirement ceremony at the American Legion where we were respectfully going through the process of burning flags that were no longer in condition to be flown (per U.S. Code Title 4 Chapter 1 (k) of the US Flag code). During this ceremony a person rode by on a motorcycle and stated “Oh, it’s just a flag burning.”

Flag retirement
Proper disposal of a flag no longer fit to be flown

These two experiences had me thinking a lot about the flag and the representation that it is of our nation. Growing up, I remember learning that you never burn a flag in protest, that a flag should never touch the ground, and that you should stand and show respect during the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, but beyond that I didn’t know a lot of the rules regarding the American Flag. I decided it is time to know more about this symbol that so quickly and easily establishes that I am proud to be a United States citizen.

The American flag has been an ever changing representation of our growing nation. It represents a nation of independence, individual liberty and popular sovereignty. Our flag is unique because it doesn’t represent a family or royal house. The flag is a representation of all approximately 300 million citizens of the United States. Congress originally decreed that there should be a star and a stripe for each state, the 13 original colonies/states. As our nation began to grow this decree changed to restrict the number of stripes to 13 representing the original states, but a star would be added for each succeeding state. The last star was added in 1959 after Hawaii was admitted as a state by President Eisenhower.

After reading the flag code my friend had every right to question the person displaying a flag upside down because the first item in the flag code states (a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property. Based on the person’s response I doubt he was in dire distress. As for the person that rode by our flag retirement ceremony, all I can think is that it was an uninformed statement. I know until recently I had never attended or even knew that the American Legion did ceremonies like this, but now I am honored to have been a part of this ceremony and look forward to attending in the future.

I have enjoyed learning more detailed information about the United States Flag and all that it represents. Please stay tuned for additional information in future posts, I would also like to hear your feelings on this national symbol.

Awareness Ribbon Colors, What Color Represents You?

Domestic Violence Awareness Ribbon handcrafted.
Handcrafted Awareness Ribbon

Wearing a ribbon or bracelet has become a quick way for us to show our support for a cause and hopefully raise awareness for that related cause. In a society that is so attached to social media and quick bursts of information it has become increasingly important to catch someone’s attention quickly. These little symbols of color are certain to do just that very thing. The ribbon, whether a digital image or an actual piece of fabric, shows all that see it our stance in support of  a cause in our attempt to bring awareness to that issue.

Our use of ribbons to represent a cause began in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when Penney Laingen tied a yellow ribbon around a tree while waiting for the safe return of her husband who was being held hostage in Iran. The yellow ribbon also saw resurgence in the early 1990’s during the Gulf War and is now often associated with military causes. Also, in the 90’s the red ribbon gained overnight popularity when many actors and actresses wore one to the Tony awards in support of AIDS sufferers.

The pink ribbon is currently the most recognized ribbon. Most of us know the pink ribbon as a representation of breast cancer awareness, but I also discovered that birth parents and nursing mothers groups use pink to signify awareness for their cause. According to Barbara Davis a Yahoo contributor, “When Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation wanted to increase awareness of their organization, they chose pink ribbons partly because it is a very feminine shade, and partly because pink is a color often associated with good health (pudgy pink babies, for example).” I would imagine that the delicate image that pink brings to mind is also the reason that other groups have chosen it to represent their cause.

Over the last 10 years I have worn a purple ribbon in support of domestic violence awareness. Many times, people assume that my ribbon is for cancer awareness. Although I have often been annoyed at the assumption, I am also grateful that people talk to me about my ribbon. It offers me the chance to speak about domestic violence awareness and encourage them to get involved with a cause that affects 1 in 4 women. Knowing that domestic violence is one of the most chronically underreported crimes based on statistics from the US Department of Justice I hope that my speaking about it encourages others to stand up for themselves or those close to them. I hope that by bringing awareness to domestic violence I can help stop the cycle because children who witness violence I twice as likely to perpetuate it as adults.

Due to the often made assumption about my ribbon representing cancer I finally took some time to do an internet search regarding the purple ribbon. Surprisingly, I was bombarded with the amount of causes that purple represents. Along with thyroid cancer and pancreatic cancer the purple ribbon also represents Alzheimer’s, lupus, ADD and victims of 9/11 just to name a few. When I started wearing my purple ribbon I didn’t realize it had such a broad representation of so many meaningful causes. I only knew that purple represented my cause. I have since come to learn that the color purple has a much deeper meaning within the domestic violence community. According to oral records, purple was the favorite color of Lisa Bianco, a woman who escaped an abusive relationship and became the director of a battered women’s program. She was later killed by her batterer when he was released on a temporary furlough. To honor her memory family and friends wore purple.

I have many causes that are important to me and I have learned that there is a ribbon color to represent just about every one of them. For now I will continue to proudly wear my purple ribbon, but might start mixing a few other colors in later. The next time you see someone wearing a ribbon, take the time to inquire what it represents, they will appreciate the opportunity to give their cause a voice.

Teen Suing Parents – A Different Perspective

I am shocked and outraged by the story from New Jersey of 18 year old Rachel Canning suing her parents for financial support. I am ashamed of Tanya Helfand for accepting this lawsuit, and completely ashamed of John Inglesino for agreeing to pay for Rachel’s attorney’s fees.  I truly feel for Judge Peter Bogaard who has to interpret the law appropriately but also attempt to protect parents’ rights. It is hard enough to raise our children these days, but to have parents and attorney’s encourage a teenager to sue her parents is outrageous.

The old proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” definitely seems to be a phrase that few people embrace these days. Mr. Inglesino indicated he made an attempt to communicate with Mr. Canning about paying for Rachel’s expenses but wasn’t able to. According to news reports he is an attorney so it seems that it was easy for him to just turn to the legal system. No matter what the outcome of this lawsuit, teens will feel empowered to push back against their parents. To me it says if I don’t like my parents’ rules I will threaten to take them to court.

When my husband and I got married it was shortly before my stepdaughters 18th birthday. Blending families is never an easy thing and she did not take my invasion on her family well. Once she turned 18 a very common phrase out of her mouth was “I’m 18 you can’t do anything,” she figured that now that she was the age of majority she no longer had to follow our house rules. Eventually she decided that the rules in our home were too strict so she moved to her mother’s home. Although we don’t know what the rules were at her mother’s house social media and school reports provided us a glimpse into the huge difference of expectations. Once she graduated from high school it seems that her mother’s rules became too much and she chose to live with a friend that supported her financially as well as showered her with gifts of vacations and tattoos. After months of hearing from my stepdaughter that she was 18 and we have no say in her life I can’t even imagine how angry I would be if she were allowed to file a similar lawsuit.

It seems that we have lost the ability to respect each other. When Rachel initially was leaving her parents’ home there was reports that there may have been an abusive situation. The Division of Child Protection and Permanency did an investigation and “found nothing amiss, determined that Rachel was “spoiled” and discontinued the investigation.” Although I don’t know how Mr. Inglesino attempted to contact Mr. Canning, I find it hard to comprehend that a man that is an attorney couldn’t respect a father and simply knock on the door and try to sit down and understand the family rules. We live in a country where we are supposed to embrace differences, yet a simple difference in family expectations causes families to end up in court.

Teenagers are demanding to be recognized as adults, but are still in need of the structure family provides and parents need to help each other maintain that structure, not work against each other as these two families seem to be. Raising children is a huge challenge. From the time they are toddlers we try to teach our children, respect, kindness, love, the list goes on. Yet it seems that as we have aged we have lost these simple basic attributes, instead we turn to rage or the legal system to resolve our differences. In my opinion as a society it has become abundantly important as adults we need to reteach ourselves the lessons we want our toddlers to embrace. We must respect each other.