“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
This was the original pledge of allegiance written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy (source link 🔗).
The words, “The Flag of the United States of America,” were not added until 25 years later in 1923.
The Flag and the pledge of allegiance is a controversial subject for many at the moment. Many individuals do not like what the flag has come to represent for them.
It is a tradition in some masonic lodges in the United States to recite the pledge of allegiance as a part of their regular business meetings. Does this mean that all members of those lodges are fiercely loyal to the governing parties, or like everything going on in the United States? The short answer is, of course not. We live in a time where it can be quite polarizing to even be asking that kind of question.
The beauty of masonry is that it is an institution where all opinions should be respected regardless of personal beliefs. That being said in open lodge controversial topics are often avoided to ensure all members meet on the level. That does not mean those aren’t discussed by masons outside of their meetings.
I say this as somewhat of a disclaimer that the goal of this post is not to persuade a definite set of symbols and their representations. The beauty of symbols is that they can continue to teach us far beyond their general representation.
While I do not understand the symbolism of most national flags, nor have I even seen every nation’s flag, I feel like the US flag is deeply symbolic beyond its colors and patterns.
On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed an act establishing an official flag for the new nation. The resolution stated: “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” On Aug. 3, 1949, President Harry S. Truman officially declared June 14 as Flag Day. (Source Link 🔗)
The exact origins seem to be a bit nebulous according to the above article on the creation of the flag. What I was taught in elementary school was that it was sewn by Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress and is generally accepted as history.
As the United States of America grew, in May of 1795 two additional stars and stripes were added. (source link.) 🔗
In 1818 the provision was changed to keep the original 13 stripes for the original 13 colonies of the United States and a Star for each new state in the Union.
These are the most generally well-known and recognized symbols of the Flag. Some provisions explain this symbolism and are generally not seen as controversial.
As an Eagle Scout and member of Scouting’s Honor Society, The Order of the Arrow, I participated in many flag ceremonies. I never did count how many. I’m sure I’ve exceeded 100 particularly in being a member of the armed services directly dealing with drill and ceremony.
The US Flag must be uniquely folded in every one of the ceremonies I performed. It is folded lengthwise in half two times. It is then to be folded triangularly eleven times for a total of 13 folds. The following video is a great illustration of folding the flag.
Some ceremonies will sometimes have a script and explain meanings for the folds. I will let you do your own research on those and form your own opinions as to their meaning, especially since at times you may be off by 1-2 folds, depending on how tightly you folded, and the size of the flag.
When it is fully folded it is triangular completely in a field of blue. The historical significance of the triangle fold was touched on in the video. That it was so it could be stored in the same boxes as the tri-fold hats of the period. It has come to take on other symbolism though, particularly for myself. The triangular shape of the folded flag is representative of the 3 branches of the US Government. The executive, legislative, and judicial. The fact that the final shape for flag storage has the stars and blue field showing only, is that the government is not above God.
Deity may take many forms for many people, but the idea that no government outranks God and the Divine is very masonic. Aside from all the many symbolisms that can be gathered from the US Flag that is the one I would like for people to appreciate.
When I personally pledge allegiance to the flag, I am pledging allegiance to my God, my neighbors, my family, and myself. I’m not pledging to a bureaucracy or government. To me the flag does not represent the government, it is more representative of the history of the land and the good and bad that has come from that governing body. To me, it represents a potential to strive for as a community.
You may not find that same meaning for yourself, and I honor that. If you would like to have a conversation and see in what other ways the US Flag is symbolic, send us an email.
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