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By: Iraolyn Humphreys
As a 34 year old African American woman, I still get chills whenever I hear the Star Spangled Banner. I never really knew why until confronted with this question. After all, it is our national anthem, so it should give me chills, right? Not necessarily so. An anthem is only as good as the country it characterizes. I can recall having to remain stationary during the Star Spangled Banner at Friday night football games in high school. My mind would wonder back to my 5th grade history class when we were studying the American Revolution. I could recall my teacher explaining the near destruction of the flag during the war, but it never faltered. I never quite understood this. How could a tattered flag, made of feeble cloth, not be destroyed amidst bombs and bullets? Now I realize that the American flag could not be destroyed for what it epitomizes is too important to our country. Wars have been fought, lives lost, families destroyed, and laws broken, all in the name of what it represents—freedom—freedom to exist as one sees fit. There are no restrictions in America. The Bill of Rights says so. The Constitution says so. The Declaration of Independence calls them our inalienable rights. In America, there is unlimited life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All of which are signified through the American flag. Our flag symbolizes durability and equality. The United States has endured horrific crimes, domestic and international wars, financial calamity, natural disasters, foreign attacks, and witnessed human suffering on every possible scale, yet we persevere and prevail. Although other countries have surpassed the United States technologically and industrially, we consistently remain number one globally. Our foreign brothers and sisters lie and cheat for a chance to live here, even if illegally and with subpar pay. They allow themselves to suffer and take chances of being imprisoned because they know that America is the only nation where the sky is the limit and their children have a shot at a promising future. One only needs tenacity, patience, and the audacity to dream and to hope. The equality that our forefathers intended for the American flag to symbolize led to the inevitable election of this country’s first black president. A country so pragmatic not only elected a black man, but a black man so culturally diverse that his name is Barack Obama; the name itself breeds controversy, particularly with regard to our contentious relations with our Islamic brothers and sisters. But because of the
emblematic statement and parity that the American flag denotes, we chose him anyway, and entrusted his ability to lead our country out of the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression. Whether it’s flown, hang, folded, or even burned, the American flag is indicative of the greatest nation in the world—the United States of America.