By: WB Ryan Kann, Gila Valley Lodge 9 F&AM
Presented to the Grand Lodge of Arizona 135th Annual Communication as Grand Standard Bearer of the Grand Lodge of Arizona 2017
Every country in the world has an official flag to represent their nation. They are a flying map of symbols used to tell the onlooker everything that country is about (and I know everybody in this room knows a little something about symbols). None however is more thought out and beautiful as the one we see here.
It is known by many names, The Stars and Stripes, The Stars and Bars, Old Glory, and the Star Spangled Banner, but it has only one purpose, to embody all that we value and hold dear in our great nation.
Many other countries have copied it in some form or another and even a state in our union has borrowed it’s characteristics.
The flag as we see it here with its 50 white stars and red & white stripes make up the most recognizable flag of any nation. It started as a banner to celebrate America's freedom but quickly became more than just our cultural icon flying at the top of a pole in front of a post office or in a school yard. Now it stands as a reminder of world diplomacy.
The 50 five-point stars represent each individual state that our grouped together forming a united whole, reminding us even though we as states are separate entities we form an indivisible Union.
The blue background exemplifies the Eternal being of God and represents all that is infinite and vigilant, and stands for the perseverance and Justice of our country.
The alternating stripes represent the Thirteen original colonies, from which our Nation’s first Patriots were born. White signifying the higher Realms of purpose that connect Mankind, and denotes purity and innocence.
The red represents the blood shed in the war that led to the establishment of our independent republic which stands for hardiness and valor.
George Washington, our esteemed brother, and father of our country, so poetically described our beautiful Flag in a different way by saying, "we take the stars from Heaven, the red from our mother country separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing Liberty".
This flag (turn to/point to) has flown as our nation's emblem without interruption since 1777. For 240 years it has flown atop our capitol, from the masts of our ships, draped over the shoulders of our Olympic champions, and laid over the caskets of our fallen heroes. We have planted it on the peaks of Everest, at the top and bottom of our world, and on the surface of a realm outside of this world.
Through 26 official modifications, our flag has led multiple generations into battle, been a welcomed sight to those in need of help, and a site of dread for those who have made enemies of us.
It has been burned in protest and hatred and flown upside down to signify someone in distress.
What other US National Treasure can be said to have seen as much, traveled as much, and endured as much. Show me one of our country's icons that inspires so many and symbolizes hope, strength, and unity more than our flag.
So Brothers, I implore you next time your attention is directed to our flag for any reason or you are asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance or sing along to The Star-Spangled Banner, take pride in standing a little taller and speaking a little louder. And may it always be a reminder that our Flag represents one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.