Old Glory, The Star-Spangled Banner, The Stars and Stripes, Red, White and Blue. These are names that are often fondly used to refer to the United States flag.
During the next few days, we will see the flag displayed more than usual due to Independence Day, including “Big Betsy,” the giant flag that will wave over Grove Creek Canyon in Pleasant Grove. I thought it would be a good time to ask a few Utah County residents how they feel about the flag of the United States of America.
“This flag means the world to me,” said John Ellis, who served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. “I will fight to protect it, even though I’m 86 years old.”
Ellis comes from a long line of veterans who have fought for our country. His ancestors have fought in every war that the United States has been involved, including the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.
In fact, his father tried to enlist during World War I, but was turned away because he had too many young children. At the age of 59, he enlisted immediately when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred, serving in World War II.
“Dad’s ship was sunk and he was one of the few that was rescued,” Ellis said.
Ellis continued the tradition of his family and joined the Air Force.
“When I was 17, I wanted to go to the Air Force,” he said. His mom hesitated, but his dad persuaded her to let him join. Ellis served during the Korean War.
“I’m a patriot. That flag means a lot to me,” he said. “It chokes me up sometimes.”
ael Uresk, 14-year-old student
“For me, the flag represents our country,” Michael Uresk said. “So, by respecting the flag, we respect our country. I feel like, because so many people fought and died defending our flag and our country, we should show respect because it shows respect to our country.”
Uresk said that when we pledge allegiance to our flag, we are pledging allegiance to our country.
“The flag is a symbol of our country and our freedoms. When I see our flag, it reminds me of the many people who died defending it so that I can have the freedoms that I now enjoy.”
Fox, Follow the Flag founder
Since 2015, a giant flag has flown over Grove Creek Canyon in Pleasant Grove every year during the week of Independence Day. The flag, which is more than a quarter-acre in size, has become a local tradition, thanks to Kyle Fox and other Follow the Flag organizers.
“When we started flying the flag in Grove Creek, I got firsthand experiences of what it has meant to other people,” Fox said. “We’ve learned that what we’re doing is a way to connect to people’s pride of America.”
Fox said that many people have shared stories with him about the impact the flag has had in their lives, including veterans and family members of fallen soldiers.
“There’s a spirit about it,” he said.
a Martinez de Lagrutta, Venezuelan immigrant
When she first came to the United States from Venezuela, Zulma Martinez de Lagrutta did not understand the meaning of the United States flag. But, after she and her family members took classes and had experiences in this country, she has come to greatly respect the symbol.
“As an immigrant, my own flag represents the love of a nation who is inside of my blood and the bravery of their people. Now here I cry, when I see my country devastated and where all the rights are violated,” she said. “I feel love for one nation who provides me the opportunity that I cannot have in my country — freedom.
“Now, after five years here, I can tell you that the United States flag represents for an immigrant the honor, the respect and the admiration for an organized society who fights for the rights of the majority and represents the freedom against the tyranny that exists in many countries,” she said.
“It also represents the respect for all of the military who protect weak countries and protect the security around the world,” Martinez de Lagrutta said. “We feel the love and respect of one society who preserves the tradition and honor of their founders.”