Why My American Flag Stands for Heritage

I have always loved the American flag.  Full of symbolism and beauty, it is equal parts patriotism, freedom, and fun.  As a Tide Gold Medal Blogger, I’m honored to share my story about what the colors of our flag truly mean to mean to me and you can join me and thousands of other Americans to do the same through Tide’s “My Story. Our Flag” Facebook App between now and July 2012.

It all begins here….

As a child growing up in the 70s, my summers were full of small American flags lining the streets on Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day, barely a house on the block without the glorious red, white and blue flying from a porch corner in the bright sunshine. Our community was anchored by our neighborhood park.  Huge in my memory, it was full of all the magic a child could wish for.  I grew up visiting it daily, climbing its trees, playing on its baseball fields, sledding its hills, building ramps to jump the creek and wading through the same to catch countless tadpoles and dig in the clay.  Just three houses from my home, this park was the center of my universe. A reflection of the times, parents would gather us up for impromptu bar-b-ques and enjoy the summer nights.  I’ll never forget how we all met at the picnic shelter the night President Nixon resigned, eyes glued to a small black and white TV screen, speechless at what had transpired.

The highpoint had to be our town’s annual 4th of July parade, complete with a bike decorating and patriotic costume contest for kids of every age.  The parade made its way down Main Street past the tiny police station, ending up at the picnic shelter like so many other special events.  In 1976, as America celebrated the Bicentennial, I chose to be the Statue of Liberty, wrapped in a sheet with a tin foil covered crown and torch made out of the same red, white and blue streamers adorning my banana seat Schwinn.  As we gathered to see who the judges had chosen, I held my breath hoping my older sister wouldn’t win.  Also a Statue of Liberty, she went the extra mile covering her skin with something green for a more “realistic” effect.  Much to my delight, I received an honorable mention both in costume and bike decor for my age group and stayed in my sheet and tin foil crown for most of the day.

Fast forward to today.  We live in a small suburb outside of Raleigh, NC known for its extensive calendar of festivals and parades all year long.  With a picturesque and historic main street, every light pole proudly flies an American flag above, a gentle reminder of both the privilege and sacrifice our freedom represents.  Its water tower stands in the distance reminding us that even in big cities, small town values and community can still exist.  And much to my delight, its precious 4th of July parade includes decorating bikes for all ages just as mine did so many years ago.

My children are growing up with their own memories of summers full of red, white, and blue. They include weekly baseball tournaments where each and every game begins with honoring our flag.  They include boat outings on the local lake, always a flag flying near by, great music, and plenty of waterskiing and tubing.  Their 4th of July parade is bookended by a pancake breakfast at the local firehouse and an afternoon pool party followed by a cookout and the best legal fireworks money can buy, sparklers in each tanned hand and to a person, all dressed in some combination of red white and blue.

If I had to choose one word that embodies the colors of my American flag, it has to be heritage.  The dictionary defines heritage as valuable or important traditions handed down from generation to generation.  I think that about says it all! Join me in sharing your story about what our flag’s red, white and blue mean to you.  Visit Tide’s “My Story. My Flag.” Facebook App today and let me know so I can follow you too!

In celebration of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Tide is enabling people to ban together under the red, white and blue through the “My Story. Our Flag.” Project. Starting today, people around the country can share what the red, white and blue mean to them on Facebook. Select stories will be represented on a swatch of fabric featuring the entrants’ photo, name, state and brief description of the story. I’m thrilled to join Tide in this effort, sharing my story above directly on the “My Story. Our Flag” Facebook App.  Anyone over 18 can be part of the celebration too ~ just write your story in 700 words or less and go for it!

The swatches will be ‘sewn’ together both digitally and physically. The digital flag will live on Facebook.com/Tide; people can check in on the status, view their story and get inspired by the stories of others.  The cornerstone of the project will be the physical flag – an awe inspiring artistic rendition of the American flag, emblazoned with the stories that give the red, white and blue so much meaning. The flag (which we anticipate will fill the grounds of the park) will be unveiled in New York City’s Bryant Park on July 3rd, when patriotism hits a fever pitch.

Disclosure: Special thanks to Tide for engaging me to serve in a professional capacity for this campaign.  A lifelong Olympic fan I proudly sported a Dorothy Hamill bob in 1976 and drew a picture of myself on the podium winning the Gold medal just like most every other little girl that magical year.  I am honored to participate in such a wonderful and as always, my opinions are entirely my own.

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  • IlinaP April 17, 2012, 12:16 pm

    I love this post, Molly. I agree that the flag is a strong reminder of heritage, however you might define it. I have a soft spot for the American flag and tear up when I hear any patriotic songs. Independence Day is actually my favorite holiday.

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