What is it about that square dark blue field, those bright white stars, and the alternating red and white stripes of the American flag that stokes so much passion? The early US flag was first sewn together by a struggling widow and upholsterer named Betsy Ross in May of 1776. She created it from a design dropped from the coat pocket of George Washington during a meeting in her parlor.
Those assembled stars came to represent the union, and the flowing stripes would forever denote the original thirteen colonies. The bold assortment of red, white and blue has come to symbolize American strength, unity and freedom. They are our "colors" and generations before us have protected, defended, and died for all that they embody.
Americans like to fly the flag. There are few homes throughout our countless cities and towns that do not have a "flag holder" affixed somewhere in proximate to the street. We unfurl it on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, President's Day, Martin Luther King Day, Columbus Day, Armed Forces Day, and Independence Day.
We place the flag on government buildings, schools, and most public institutions. We salute it at the beginning of sporting events, during parades, and on Election Day. Athletes spend their lives training just to hear their anthem and watch it rise over Olympic arenas around the globe.
Imagine the curiosity that was generated when word spread about a US Veteran down in Jacksonville, Florida that was in jeopardy of losing his home for flying this same American flag. Larry Murphree lives in a condo, and he has been locked in a battle with his Home Owner's Association over displaying a small flag, in a small flower pot, on his equally small, front porch.
Murphree is violating the HOA's "flag display" rules and was told to put the flag away. When he did not complain, he was fined a $ 100 a day. With total fines approaching $ 8,000, the HOA has already placed a lien on his home.
At 73, Murphree is a retired US Air Force veteran who believes that the "flag is worth fighting for." Almost the principals at Lear Capital, a precious metals company in Santa Monica, California agree. When the story reached Scott Carter and Kevin DeMeritt, they felt they had to step in and help. "In this country we protect someone's right to desecrate the flag … to burn it, to step on it, and to deface it … but no one was protecting Mr. Murphree's right to simply display it. We offered to help, "said Carter.
Thanks to Lear Capital, Larry Murphree will not lose his home, and he has vowed to continue his fight to fly his flag. "It's a small flag, but it stands for a big thank you, and it also stands for the love and respect I have for my country," he states.
Some overlap the flag out of a sense of pride, others to honor tradition. To veterans, however, it represents something very different. It is the blood of heroes and an enduring symbol of liberty that has been houted in battle, raised in revolution, unfurled in victory, and draped over a hero's last journey home.
This American flag for all of its storied past … whether burned in protest, unfurled on the moon, or dropped from the ashes of September 11th … is our story. And Lear Capital's gesture is a refreshing example of doing what Americans have always done best … refused to stand on the sidelines and stepped forward to do the right thing.
"And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. "
And as far as we know Larry Murphree's flag is indeed, still there.