Flags and Family Traditions

The American flag that hung on the porch of my childhood home.

The flag hanging on our porch today used to hang over the porch of my childhood home. I brought it home when my brother and I cleaned out and sold the old house. I appreciate having that connection to my dad when I hang the flag out on holidays.

Dad loved marching bands, and took us to the local Fourth of July parade every year. He always stood as the flag passed by, something that isn't done much anymore. I do, because he taught me how important it is.

When we readied the empty house for sale, I found two flags in the closet in the laundry room. Dad had told me years earlier that he had retired the old flag that was frayed and tattered, but I didn't expect to find both the old and the new flags in their boxes in the closet. Dad knew that you can't just throw away an old flag. And because I knew it too, I brought both of them home with me. The following July I took the old flag to the local hardware store where a veterans' group was collecting flags that needed to be disposed of with respect.

Flags flying on a windy day in a small Oklahoma town.
A windy day in a small Oklahoma town

Even the "new" flag is showing its age. Dad displayed it on all national holidays so it's a bit frayed by the wind. I try to remember to do the same, but I don't always remember except on Independence Day.

A few years prior to Dad's passing, my brother and I were cleaning out and selling another house: our grandmother's. Tucked in a cupboard in the living room, I found a collection of vinyl records of Hawaiian music. This was so at odds with my memories of my grandparents; they liked Hawaiian music? Then I noticed the release date of the albums: 1959, the year that Hawaii became a state.

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Out of curiosity I looked up Alaska's date of entry into the US - also in 1959 - and it struck me that when I was born, America's flag had only 48 stars. I was very young when we became a nation of 50 states, but suddenly this realization made me feel a part of an historic event, like the day Dad insisted we sit as a family in front of the television and watch man's first step on the moon.

I also realized that the old, retired flag probably wasn't our family's first flag. I'm sure Dad proudly flew a red-white-and-blue with six rows of eight stars each on our porch when I was too young to remember.

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  1. What neat memories! That's fantastic that you can use your father's flag!

    1. Thank you, Danielle. I hope you and your family had a wonderful Independence Day.

    2. I love the family traditions centered around flags. What a great connection to your dad and to family memories.


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