Six Flags Over Me

By Darlene Franklin ~

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.

My heart is stirred whenever I hear the music of Sousa and Springsteen et al. The fact President Eisenhower added “under God” to the pledge the year I was born (1954) increases its hold on my heart.

Although nothing can replace the red, white, and blue, I’ve lived under multiple flags during my life. To the national flag, I would add three state flags, my family crest, and the Christian flag. 

My life divides into three segments: twenty years in Maine, ten years in Oklahoma; twenty in Colorado; and now another ten years in Oklahoma. Short stints in New Jersey, Florida, Texas, and Arkansas don’t count. 

Each state’s flag captures its unique essence. For Maine, a moose lays between ocean and a white pine. If the state animal and tree left me in doubt, the letters stating “Maine” give it away, and I chuckle when I read the state motto, Dirigo, “I lead or direct.” How very like independent Mainers to make their own way.

Colorado’s streamlined flag also makes a strong statement. A yellow circle (for sunshine) nestles with a red C emblazoned upon a blue (clear skies)-and-white (snow) striped background shares its colors with the national flag. That’s my Colorado. 

Only Oklahoma, once Indian Territory, would place a war shield with a peace pipe and olive branch on its flag. The words of its pledge, “its symbols of peace unite all people” strike home. I love living in a state where contemporary Indian life marches seamlessly and colorfully alongside our state life. 

If Maine reflects my past, and Colorado my dreams, Oklahoma represents who I am today.

I was the captain of my soul
For Maine claims, I direct
But when I set forth 
Ready to conquer my future
My life fell apart on 
Oklahoma’s windswept plains
Until I came home to Colorado
In the summer of my thirty-seventh year
And found myself
In mountain, glen, and sunshine
Sheltered, healed, I returned
Assured of peace on
Oklahoma’s windswept plains

My research into the Sparks (maiden name) family crest proved interesting. It’s been corrupted from the occupational name “Sparrowhawk,” the favorite falcon of Richard the Lion-Hearted. His falconer saved the king’s life on two occasions during the Crusades. I like to think that man was my ancestor. 

A leopard with fire spewing from his mouth sits atop the family crest. Hmm, a big cat. Is my affinity to all things feline a family trait? The lively, fiery disposition attributed to Sparks has also been true of me. Add the qualities of generosity, elevation of mind, and hope (suggested by the green and gold checkered background), and I’ve discovered a family I’m glad to identify with.  

What about the Christian flag? When I pledge allegiance to the flag and to the Bible, I declare my loyalty to “one Savior, crucified, risen, and coming again with life and liberty to all who believe,” as well as “God’s Holy Word. I will make it a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path and will hide its words in my heart that I might not sin against God.”

Combined, they speak to me not of patriotism, but of my core values. I am daughter of the king, my birthright through my Savior, and that brings liberty to me, and to those around me. 

Our flags represent our past, our present, our future heritage—let’s give them honor.

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