Betsy Ross and the American Flag (Louis Toliver Jr - USA/Austin, Texas)



Aren’t you proud to be in a country where a woman’s creativity made one of the most empowering symbols in the world? The American Flag. I am.  I wonder what it would be like to go back in time and sit down and talk, while our great American Flag was being made by that creative seamstress, Betsy Ross.

I imagine myself coming from the future in a time machine to Betsy.  I’d be eager to tell her about what America was like today. We would sit and talk about all those great lives that would die for the piece of fabric she was stitching together: Native Americans, European exiles, Confederate and Union slaves, patriotic men, working women, gay families, patriotic veterans, and devoted immigrants all with that American Flag-twinkle in their eye. Once I was done telling her about all the different fights for freedom, I imagine she’d ask, “When will we ever stop fighting for freedom?” I would say, “I don’t know.” There would be a short silence; hesitation and fear mixed with inevitability.

When Betsy finished the flag, I imagined Betsy would say to me, “Would you like to come raise this flag with me?” And I would say, “Of course, because this symbolizes equality.” I believed in both it and its creator. We raise the flag together outside her home.  And though it is difficult to utter (as the silence of hope can often feel like a burden as lifting the Flag did in this moment), Betsy would ask, “Are you sure many lives are going to be lost over this Flag?” And I would respond, “Yes, and so many people are going to die under it.”  We both sigh. Then, as the wind blew, we would look up. Still hoping that this Flag, would someday live up its power.

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