American Flag

WHAT THE AMERICAN FLAG MEANS TO ME

On June 14, 1885, Bernard J. Cigrand, a 19-year-old teacher at Stony Hill School placed a 10-inch, 38 star flag on his desk.  He asked his students to write an essay in reflection of what this flag meant to them.  The American Flag Day Foundation aims to keep this patriotic tradition alive.

 

2022 ESSAY CONTEST

The essay contest is open to all students grades 4-12. All students in public, private, parochial, home, or virtual schools are invited and encouraged to participate. Length of the essays are:

     1. 150 words in length for grades 4 and 5
     2. 250 words in length for grades 6 and 7
     3. 500 words in length for grades 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12

All entries must be original and should reflect on the prompt, "What does the American flag mean to me?"

Judging criteria is:
Composition                                            60%
Originality                                               20%
Grammar, punctuation, and spelling           20%

Please provide a cover sheet with the essay that includes the contestant’s name, grade, name of school, home address and phone number. Please note, submission of an entry indicates a consent for the winner's name, school, and home town to be published on this site. Winners will also be invited to read their essay at the Flag Day Observance in Waubeka, Wisconsin.

Prizes will be awarded to each age group (grades 4-5), (grades 6-7), and (grades 8-12) that include first place of $250 and second place prize of $125. Winners will be notified by phone.

Please submit entries by April 15, 2022 via:

essay@nationalflagday.com OR National Flag Day Observance 2021
                 PO Box 55
                 Waubeka, WI 53021

For more information contact: Pam Schlenvogt at (414)333-8778

 

2021 WINNERS

1st Place: High School

Hannah Lango

I have noticed that lately some people don’t respect the American flag; they say the pledge of allegiance or sing the national anthem without standing and putting their hand over their heart. This bothers me because our flag deserves reverence and respect.  It is a tangible symbol of how our nation was founded, what it is today, and what it will be tomorrow.

To me, the history of America is written on those white stars and crimson stripes.  When I see our flag, I can almost see our founding fathers in a heated discussion over the unjust taxes England is levying on them.  I see Patrick Henry slam his clenched first down on a table as he makes a passionate and eloquent plea for liberty. I see Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Samuel Prescott leaping onto their horses and riding like wildfire to warn their fellow Americans of the approaching British navy. I see Thomas Jefferson presenting the Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress and John Hancock leaning over the document, quill in hand, as he boldly signs it in his flamboyant penmanship. I see the hush that falls over the colonies as they realize they just picked a fight with the strongest nation on earth. I see the battles that ensued, fought by brave patriots and led by the great General Washington.  And I see the final battle at Yorktown, where Washington trapped the British against the Chesapeake Bay and decisively ended the war, securing independence for the fledgling United States of America.  

It was almost unbelievable. There was no way on earth our untrained militia could have beaten mighty England, but we did.  And the courage, spirit, and sense of justice that drove those early patriots to fight for a better tomorrow is woven into the very fabric of our American flag-red for bravery. White for purity. Blue for justice. 

The flag is the history of America.

Our flag also represents America as it is today-the greatest nation ever in the history of mankind. The country where freedom rings. The country known for upholding justice, defending the oppressed, and fighting tyranny. The land that is respected by the world because of her prosperity and strength. The place where everyone, no matter what your religion or color, has equal opportunity to live the American dream.

The country I am proud to call “home.”

The future of the United States is also symbolized by the flag. You see, the story of America is still being written today-by us. It’s up to us to carry the torch of excellence passed down from the Americans before us. 

During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key penned the famous words, “O say, does that star spangled banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” Despite having been written several hundred years ago, that same question is still relevant today. Obviously, the flag is indeed waving over our nation, but is it flying over a free and brave nation? Twenty years from now, will our flag still symbolize the greatest nation on earth? We must do all we can to ensure that it does. Each and every American has the responsibility to maintain our country’s reputation so that our flag will remain the emblem of power and greatness that it has been every since 1776.

So, in short, our flag represents the past, present, and future of the United States of America. I respect it and love it because it is the symbol of the country I respect and love. It is an honor to live under the American flag, and I hope that someday, at least in part, I can repay my wonderful country for the freedoms and opportunities I have because of it.

2nd place: High School

Jada Straight-Rochwite

What does the American flag mean to me? What does the American flag mean to everyone in the United States? The American Flag has represented freedom, courage, valor, perseverance, justice, innocence, purity and bravery since 1777, but to many of us, it represents much more. 

The American Flag represents my Grandpa who fought in Vietnam; in the Navy, my cousins who enlisted in the Army, and my uncles and aunts who are army veterans.  It represents the time that they spent away from home, the injuries that they sustained, and the children who never got to see their parents again. It represents the letters that I sent to my brother as he was overseas in the Army and the time I spent away from him.  It represents the tears that I shed as he came walking up the stairs of my house to embrace me in a tight hug that lasted for minutes, the day he came back home.

The American Flag also represents law enforcement, first responders, fire serves, ems, and all of the other professions that keep us safe.  The similarity between all of the professions I listed are that they all represent, courage, valor, perseverance, justice, innocence, purity and bravery; the same as the American flag represents.

To me the American flag is a symbol of Pride. When the first steps on the moon were taken, there was an American flag placed next to the footprints, representing the pride that we have for our Country. Olympians will wrap the flag around them as they receive the Gold medal because they have pride for the country they are competing for. All emergency response stations have an American flag flying high outside their station because they are proud to be serving their community in the great United States.

When a hero falls, such as a police officer or a firefighter, the American flag is flown at half-staff to honor the fallen heroes that lost their lives serving our communities in our great Country. As a daughter of a firefighter and as a firefighter myself, I pray that the need of the American flag flown at half-staff isn’t ever needed again, but then again, I don’t think there is a greater honor than to have the American Flag be flown in honor of us if tragedy were to strike. 

The American flag reminds me of the history that I wasn’t there for,  but have learned about throughout the years. It reminds me of the 22 Veterans every day that commit suicide because of what they have been through before, during and after they served our great Country. I’m reminded of the hardships that people have gone through in our Country. It reminds me of the kindness we should have for each other, as we may have differences, but we are all still Americans.

In conclusion, the American flag means a lot more to me than the red, white, and blue and the 50 stars. When I look at the American flag, I feel bravery, courage, happiness that I have that freedom because of our amazing heroes, pain because of the heroes we lost, and most of all; pride.

Through wars and in times of peace, the sight of the American flag has given assurances that democracy lives. No other symbol captures the power and glory of our nation like the American flag. 

1st Place: Grades 6-8

Chase White

When you look at the American flag, what do you think of? Maybe you think of the people who fought for it, or the people in the country today.  The American flag can make you feel many different ways, and that’s something I love about it. Some people don’t think about what it means, but there are many things that it represents. 

First, the American flag means that people had to sacrifice their lives to save other people.  The people who died deserve to be honored, and they are honored every day by Americans.  Next, it means that the people who live in the United States are all united as one nation that together can do anything.  Americans pledge their allegiance which means they are going to respect the flag and the other people that live under it.  Lastly, the people who survived those wars must think about the people who were serving with them all the time.  I believe that when those veterans look at the flag they know that veterans who died were honored to serve with them.  The American flag is the thing that unites us, shows our respect for veterans, and shows our allegiance to the United States, which is why it is very important. 

The thoughts that you have when you look at the American flag are not right or wrong; it is just how you interpret it.  The American flag can represent different things for different people, and that’s what makes it special. 

2nd Place: Grades 6-8

Leanna Weinhold

The American flag is a symbol of accomplishment, bravery, freedom, and equality. Our flag means this and more, not being a mere piece of cloth.  These thirteen stripes portray the first colonies; the stars represent our nation’s fifty states.  The vibrant colors of these pieces have even more meaning. Red symbolizes strength and valor. White symbolizes purity, innocence, peace, and beauty. Blue symbolizes perseverance, justice, prosperity, and freedom.  This flag symbolizes our country.

Imagine it’s July 20, 1969 and you are sitting in your living room watching Neil Armstrong taking his first step on the moon. You are witnessing with your own eyes the first man to ever walk on the moon.  This moment will never be forgotten, filled with awe and wonder.  The American flag was flown into space and placed on the moon’s surface.  Our flag made it to the moon, and we accomplished the unimaginable. 

The American flag inspired our valiant soldiers to fight for our freedom, liberty, and democracy. We Americans have a duty to honor the lives sacrificed. We should appreciate and show gratitude to the people that dedicated themselves to our country.

I am blessed to be born an American and feel so much pride for my nation. I am truly privileged to have so many opportunities in his country that God has blessed.

“When we honor our flag we honor what we stand for as a nation: freedom, equality, justice, and hope.” Ronald Reagan said it well.  Let us show the honor due. 

1st Place: Grades 4-5

Will Benedict

The American Flag is more than just cloth, it’s freedom, opportunity, and freedom of the press.  I’m thankful for all the soldiers that died.  They will be remembered forever and loved because God has a special place for them. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines gave their lives for America’s freedom.

We all have equal opportunity whether we are white, black, rich, or poor. People from all over the world want to come to America to experience the freedom and love it provides.  In other places, people don’t experience the same freedom we do.  When I see the flag, it represented being able to follow my own chosen path.

It’s an honor and a privilege to be a citizen of this country. Living in America isn’t like living in any other country. Every day, good people give their best to make our country better.  My pride in our country makes me want to continue that legacy. I love our flag and always will. It is a physical reminder of what opportunity we have, our religious freedom, and a representation of the battles my family won defending her.

2nd Place: Grades 4-5

Adrian Qerimi

What the American flag means to me is… that our country fought for us many times.  The army gave us freedom, protection, and a great place to live.  When I see the flag it reminds me of doing the Pledge of Allegiance at school.  It also reminds me of when we unite just like the United States.  During the Fourth of July my family and I go to the neighbors and watch the fireworks. When I watch the fireworks I think of bursting bombs just like the ones in war.  My great-grandpa was in the Korean War and he told many stories about it.  The American flag relates to that because he helped the army build huge bridges! I have many ideas about the flag. Hopefully, you have amazing reasons about the flag too. In my opinion the American flag is special in it’s own way. 

 

2020 ESSAY CONTEST WINNERS

The National Flag Day Foundation wishes to thank each of the nearly 250 students who submitted essays for the2020 contest. The response was greater than ever, with entries received from all over the United States. All of the essays were well done, making selection of only two per category difficult. The students expressed very thought-provoking reflections on the personal significance of the American Flag. All contestants are to be applauded for their outstanding effort. Special thanks to all of the contestants and our panel of judges.

 

First Place - Grades 3-5

Kira Cunningham
Milwaukee, WI

 

First Place - Grades 6-8

Eva Duran
Port Washington, WI

 

First Place - Grades 9-12

Jena Lakhani
Richmond, TX

 

Second Place - Grades 3-5

Ethan Krueger
Grafton, WI

 

Second Place - Grades 6-8

Delsie Duvall
Sparks, NV