The Fourth of July means many things to many different people, including an opportunity for rest and recreation and for celebrating over two centuries of our independence and freedom. In this latter aspect, the Fourth is universally represented by the symbol of our Federal Republic, the flag of the United States of America.

The Museum displays a flag that is particularly significant in 1997, the year in which the United States Air Force celebrates its fiftieth year of existence as a separate service. In the year 1947, the American flag had only forty-eight stars. Only two years before, the world had been at war with the German Third Reich and with the Empire of Japan. It had been a long, six-year struggle that ended only after the invasion and occupation of Germany and the destruction of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In the countries of Europe that had just been liberated from domination under the "Thousand-Year Reich," there was a great outpouring of emotion when the victorious armies of the Allied Powers freed the cities, towns, and villages from their years of German occupation. To show their enthusiastic appreciation to the Amis Americains, they greeted their liberators with a multitude of small, hand-held flags. In more than one village, the local citizens took the time and the trouble to sew by hand a full-size American flag with which to greet their new-found friends.

The flag displayed by the Museum is an example of just such a flag. The material is local and not up to the high standards that we have come to expect. The stars are hand-sewn in place and not exactly "in good order." Still, this flag, for all its "faults," conveys a lot of the heart-felt emotions of its makers, making it a fitting banner to be lifted up high on this or any other Fourth of July.

Come and see this piece of history and others in "Granny's Attic," the Belhaven Memorial Museum.

Belhaven Treasure #12

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Diane K. Mason, HTML Editor 1998