Thursday, July 4, 2013

July 4 re-run: America, land of the blue, white & red

I wrote this in Oct. 2011 and thought it'd be a good one to re-run for anyone sniffing around the blog today. Enjoy your Fourth and God Bless America -- 237 years old and still a really great idea!

The Red, White & Blue. Just mention of the colors kind of puts a patriotic lump in the old throat.

The colors are synonymous with mom, apple pie, Detroit car commercials and the almighty NFL.

Pop flag wavers Lynyrd Skynyrd and Toby Keith have songs with the sequential colors in the title, and they’re the colors political stars of all stripes will wrap themselves in as they seek to convince voters they are the patriots deserving of election.

So just who are they striving to represent? The Netherlands? Luxembourg?

Because flags representing those countries are true red, white and blue.

America most certainly is not.

We’re maybe blue, white and red or the alphabetically proper blue, red & white. If spacial considerations were given we’d likely be the white, red & blue, those being the dominating percentages of the flag colors in descending order.

But if we Americans continue to call ourselves “The Red, White & Blue,” we’re letting the world know we’re a nation of ocular idiots.

Just picture the American flag and let your eye react to it the way it naturally does to words on a page. The eye is conditioned to start at the upper left and move rightward across the top.

With the American flag, the eye sees blue, then white, then red.

I called Vince Vaise, park ranger and chief of interpretation at Fort McHenry, where the American flag inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner,” incidentally a much more accurate and zesty description of the American flag.

He said he knew of no history of how the colors came to be sequenced the way they did.

“Whenever anyone uses bunting, the order is blue, white and red,” he says. “So it goes against that custom. It sounds better, I guess.”

True, but that may only be out of habit. Since children we’ve been indoctrinated to say it in specific sequence -- red, white and blue.

But how did that get started?

I’m going to investigate. I’m going to try and put together a story idea that will inspire some history magazine to assign me to find out the truth.

But more than that, I think it simply needs to be done and, by God, I’ll not rest until I do it.

I’ll do it for mom, country and the good ol’ red, white and blue.

That’s right.

I’m doing it for the Dutch.

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