Officer & Gent

Taking Ownership of the Flag

To the soldiers (troopers) that I commanded in my last Company, I may have used this phrase all too often, but I truly stand by the fact that it is the fastest path to making something Great.

Take ownership of what is yours.

One of the issues we face, within our country today, is at the very base of our understanding of the symbols that define us as a nation.  Let’s start with understanding what the American Flag symbolizes.  Bear with me, because you’re about to learn something new.

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed an act establishing an official flag for the new nation. The resolution stated: “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

Many of you will say that the colors have special meaning behind them, and I was taught the same thing.  “White signifies purity and innocence. Red hardiness and valour and Blue … signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice.”  However, the colors have never had an official meaning assigned to them by the US Government.  Many historians believe that the use of red, white and blue in the Stars and Stripes has to do with the simple fact that they were the colors of the first flag of the American colonies, the Grand Union Flag, which looked like this:


So why am I telling you all of this?  To make room in your mind for the truth about what the American flag truly is.

The American Flag is a living breathing document that tells of where we came from, and who we are right now.

Reading the Stripes:

As stated above, the red/white stripes of the flag come from the original American Colonial flag which represents the history of the country, by expressing the original 13 colonies as stripes, but not just randomly.  The stripes actually represent very specific colonies, in order of ratification to the United States, read from top to bottom.


  • Stripe 1 – Delaware
  • Stripe 2 – Pennsylvania
  • Stripe 3 – New Jersey
  • Stripe 4 – Georgia
  • Stripe 5 – Connecticut
  • Stripe 6 – Massachusetts
    • Maine (which had been part of Massachusetts until 1820)
  • Stripe 7 – Maryland
  • Stripe 8 – South Carolina
  • Stripe 9 – New Hampshire
    • Part of Vermont (which had been disputed between NH and NY until 1791)
  • Stripe 10 – Virginia
    • Kentucky (which had been part of Virginia until 1792)
    • West Virginia (which had been part of Virginia until 1863)
  • Stripe 11 – New York
    • Part of Vermont (which had been disputed between NH and NY until 1791)
  • Stripe 12 – North Carolina
    • Tennessee (which had been part of North Carolina until 1790)
  • Stripe 13 – Rhode Island

That is our history as a nation.  That is the history of these states, and the sacrifices that were made by the citizens of those states in order to form our nation.  I have always been proud to be a citizen of one of the original colonies, because I can point to that second stripe on the flag and tell our story.  There are 50 states in the nation, and 50 stories that can be told on how that state came to be a part of our country, but only 13 states can see their stories told on our flag.

Reading the Stars:

The 50 stars in the blue field represent the country as it is today.  Each star represents a different state.  Just like with the Stripes on the flag, your state isn’t to be found on there at random, but rather read from left to right, top to bottom in order of ratification.


What does that star represent? 

If we were to add a new state, we would gain a new star.  If we were to lose a state, we would take one star away.  That is because the star represents the states as they are today.  The star symbolizes the people from that state that belong to our nation.  I live in Pennsylvania, and the Second star on the top row of our flag represents not just the Common Wealth of Pennsylvania, but since it represents its people… that means that it is my wife’s star, my kid’s star….  That is MY STAR.

Take ownership of what is yours.

All too often I see the flag of our nation being burned or mistreated in protests.  I’ve seen it burned to protest the dislike of our president, but there is a different flag that represents him…. It looks like this:


I’ve see our flag burned in foreign countries who dislike the American Military, but if you don’t like the Army or the Navy, the Marines or the Air Force, there are flags that represent the armed forces, they look like this:


In a nation that was created for the people, by the people, there was only be one way for the founders symbolize such a nation, and it was to create a symbol OF THE PEOPLE, and it looks like this:


Take ownership of THIS FLAG, for it IS YOURS.

-CPT Mills

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