The Meaning Behind Each Fold of the Flag

Folded Flag

On this day that we celebrate the symbol of our nation I would like to share the flag folding program that explains the reason for each fold. I always knew that a flag should be folded into a triangular shape with the stars on the outside, but never realized how significant it is. No matter what your beliefs are about the state of our country the flag is meant to be a symbol of unity. Take the time today to enjoy the freedoms we have and respect The United States Flag.

We fold from the stripes toward the stars, for whereas the stripes represent the thirteen original colonies, they are now embodied in the fifty sovereign states represented by the stars.

FIRST FOLD – A symbol of life

SECOND FOLD – A symbol of our belief in the eternal life

THIRD FOLD – Made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks and who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

FOURTH FOLD – Represents our weaker nature; for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for his divine guidance.

FIFTH FOLD – A tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but she is still our country, right or wrong.”

SIXTH FOLD – Stands for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

SEVENTH FOLD – A tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all the enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

EIGHTH FOLD – A tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.

NINTH FOLD – A tribute to womanhood it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the characters of the men and women who have made the country great have been molded.

TENTH FOLD – A tribute to father, for he too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first born.

ELEVENTH FOLD – In the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

TWELFTH FOLD – In the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our National motto, “In God We Trust.”

Are drugs to blame for mass tragedies?

In light of the most recent tragedy in Santa Barbara there is an article that has seen an increase in circulation titled, Nearly Every Mass Shooting in the Last 20 Years Shares 1 Thing in Common.. . In reading through the version that I clicked on the article list tragedies starting with the two perpetrators of the tragedy at Columbine High School and that they were both prescribed a psychotropic drug. It goes on to list other tragedies and the common thread of psychotropic drugs. I have not taken the time to research each perpetrator nor do I plan on doing so, what I do know is that if you read the side effects of any of the medications prescribed for ADD, ADHD or depression, aggressive behavior or suicidal tendencies are listed

One thing that I have experienced and think is unfortunate is the desire for our young to fit into an educational and behavioral box. All children are not built the same, not everyone can sit for 8 hours and soak in everything that a teacher is required to teach. While I won’t delve into the challenges that our education system has I do want to speak of my experience of the school pressuring me to put my son on a psychotropic drug because they felt he was ADD. When he was in second grade his teacher was concerned that my son was not keeping up with the rest of his class and felt that medication could help him focus. I took him to his pediatrician at the time to find out about how they diagnosed ADD and was shocked when he handed me two questionnaires, one for me to fill out and one to have his teacher fill out. When we returned to the doctor to have him explain the evaluation he said based on the responses he could call in a prescription right away. Really, you mean based on how we answered 30 questions each you are going to put my son on medication that could change him for the rest of his life, needless to say we never returned to that doctor again! Instead of turning to drugs I began to monitor our diet and tried to eat as much natural unprocessed food as we could. To help my son get caught up in school I also invested in one on one tutoring. Although it wasn’t an easy process these two changes made a major difference and by the next school year my son was caught up to his classmates. As he got older monitoring his diet got more challenging and he continued to have “behavioral” issues in school, but when he was eating healthy his issues weren’t as pronounced. I accept that there are times when medication is needed, but I also think it has become an easy solution to a complex problem. I truly believe we are so busy with external impressions that we have become blind to the things we can do to change our own life and those close to us.

There really is no way to make sense of any tragedy whether it is a mass shooting, a suicide or one individual killing another there is still loss of a life. Each of us deserves to live a long life of pursuing our own happiness. As parents make sure you are fully educated on all medical decisions. Most importantly, take time to slow down and enjoy the beauty of the world around us and enjoy each other. Show compassion and empathy to a stranger every day and maybe we won’t hear of so many angry incidents happening in our world.

Are we our own worst enemy?

Sunset in the West

Last month I wrote about the UN study that warned of the continued risk of global warming, climate change and my surprise that this issue wasn’t being taken more seriously. Since then we have heard from the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the overuse of antibiotics and that it has created resistance globally. We have seen several celebrities promoting books or their own documentaries on healthy diets or the diabetes/obesity epidemic. Then finally on May 6th the White House released their report on climate change and how it will affect the different regions of our country. I view all of these issues interconnected and related to the Industrial Revolution.

The Industrial Revolution made its way to America approximately 150 years ago. During this time we saw advancements in every area including transportation, medicine and technology. Within the medical realm Edward Jenner and his work on an immunization to eradicate the small pox virus began what became the foundation of today’s immunology. Later in the 1800’s scientists began to discover and implement the use of different antibiotics including the widely known and accepted penicillin. Around this time we saw major growth in transportation as well with the growth of the railway. The railway changed the way people and foods were able to move about the country. This new way of transporting food changed how and what people living in urban areas were able to consume. There were also the technological advances with machinery being able to complete tasks that were done by hand, many of these advancements continue to happen today. Don’t get me wrong I am grateful for the Industrial Revolution, if it hadn’t happened I wouldn’t be able to sit here typing this on a computer while being able to stay at home and take care of my child in an air-conditioned home. I do think that the Industrial Revolution is what has caused a nation and world of connected yet disconnected people. Let me explain.

The railway* opened up the possibility of moving more people and food throughout the country. It also created challenges for farmers about how to get their food moved around while also keeping it safe to eat. This challenge became an opportunity for a middle man to come in and create a process to keep the foods safe. One process created was refrigeration which kept meat and vegetation fresh longer. Companies also started developing ways of processing foods with chemicals or salt that would help them last longer. This change in the food industry has created a society that is disconnected from the farmer and from the source of our food. How many people know that brussel sprouts grow on a stalk or that basil is a finicky herb that likes specific growing conditions? The majority of society wants to walk into a grocery store and get what they want for the cheapest price they can. There is little thought into the challenges that a farmer might have in growing things. The pressure for farmers to produce large amounts of food at a low cost has also created growing practices that require tilling of the land. Something that few people may realize is that when you till the land it releases carbon dioxide, one of the major contributors to climate change.

As scientists progressed through this revolution, society has enjoyed many advances in medicine which helped us live longer and more comfortably. One of the dramatic changes was the development of antibiotics which helped to keep people alive if they had a major infection, but they also became widely used for minor infections or as protection against getting infections. Also, because of the demand on livestock farmers to produce more for a lower cost they have used antibiotics to help keep animals healthy until they are slaughtered, this means that we are ingesting small amounts through our foods along with anytime we are prescribed them. In the World Health Organizations recent report this overuse of antibiotics has now created a situation where simple infections are no longer treatable. The report sites that gonorrhea is untreatable in 10 countries. Scientists have also worked on chemicals to help farmers combat weeds and bugs to help increase their crop sizes. Just as microbes have changed to avoid destruction by antibiotics, weeds and bugs are adapting to withstand the use of pesticides and herbicides. It seems that humans are the only ones not adapting to our changing world.

Humans have made huge advancements in the world developing faster better ways of transportation, and communication. We have improved our medical opportunities helping people that once would never have a full life be able to experience years of health. Unfortunately we aren’t working with our planet to help us continue to grow. No matter how fast a plane can fly, or a computer can operate they will never replace our need for fresh water and food. The medical community is never going to create a way for us to survive without natural nourishment. It is time to take back responsibility for our health and the health of our planet. We need to help the earth to heal by allowing farmers to use organic practices. We should also try to slow down and grow a garden, spend time in nature. We also need to give our bodies time when we are sick to heal naturally. By working with our environment we can evolve along with the microbes and planet around us.

* Countryside Magazine – Food and the fast track – by Jerri Cook Volume 94 number 5, 2010

Celebrating in April

Seeing beauty in every moment.
Seeing beauty in every moment.

Look for the good in every person and every situation. You’ll almost always find it.
Brian Tracy

The week of April 15-20 seems to be a time that has attracted evil for over 100 years. For me these five days have always been a time of celebration, because they include my father’s birthday, my aunt’s birthday as well as my parent’s anniversary. Over the last 22 years though, Americans have come to dread this week due to many national tragedies. As this week came and went we saw many news stories remembering the bombing during the Boston marathon last year, Dateline also did a special about the Columbine shooting 15 years ago. The special had a positive message about overcoming that I would encourage you to watch. These are only two of the several tragic events that have occurred within this 5 day time span.

As I sat back and reflected on this time period and my reasons for celebration and the countries desire for healing I keep wondering how can we combine these two and make changes? I am blessed that I have a family that has a strong bond although geographically we are not close. We have love and support that transcends distance. I live my life with a positive outlook and try to reflect that to all of my friends and family, but our nation seems to be in distress that continues to grow. It is heartwarming to see the bond that the survivors of these various tragedies have, but this bond is not crossing over to the nation as a whole.

My desire is to see more stories of people coming together to support one another. Utilizing the common courtesies that seem to be old fashioned like holding a door, or even simply smiling and saying hello. One of my favorite stories is Pay it Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde. The message of doing something kind for someone and wanting nothing in return except to have someone pay that kindness forward to someone else is my mantra. Although it is not a common practice I offer everyone I see a smile for the day. I hope that you can smile too.

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.
Frederick Keonig

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.