On this day in 1777, the stars and stripes were adopted by the Second Continental Congress as the official flag of our country — or at least our little rebellion. To be honest, I’m not fond of it. It’s badly designed. There’s a blue rectangle in the upper left hand cover with a variable number of stars. Don’t get me wrong: I like one star for each state. But I don’t like them relegated to the corner in such an awkward way. And the 13 stripes representing the first colonies? I really don’t care. Maybe we should have eight red stripes to correspond to the eight slave states at that time. Not that they weren’t all culpable.
Anyway, I remember telling my first wife that I didn’t like our flag. She snapped at me, “What do you want? Three stripes like Italy?” I was too shamed to respond, but the truth is: yes, I would prefer that. But what I had in mind was the Soviet Union’s flag, which I still think is gorgeous. But there are many beautiful flags today. I like the simplicity and the symbolism with the Japanese flag. Israel’s flag is arguably better on these counts. Canada has a very fetching flag. There is much to say for Papua New Guinea’s flag with the Southern Cross and its national bird, the raggiana bird-of-paradise. I could go on. And on. And on. There are only a handful of flags that I like less.
Not that any of this matters. A nation needs a distinct flag and we have that. But it annoys me that we could never change it. If anyone tried, Americans would rise up and claim that it is a wonderful flag and we could never admit to being wrong. Just as our 225 year old Constitution is the best one imaginable (except it isn’t), our 240 year old flag couldn’t possibly be improved upon. So we are stuck with it.
Happy Flag Day everyone!