by Ski Ingram

The controversy over the Betsy Ross flag, according to an article published in the Washington Post, began when a few students from Forest Hills High school displayed a Betsy Ross flag which superintendent Behm found offensive and a symbol of hate.  He reasoned that it is offensive since the flag was designed and flown over the country during the years of slavery and that an unknown, unnamed white supremacy group had adopted it as their banner.  He then banned the flag from all high school football games.

There is a picture of a couple of high school students holding a Betsy Ross flag and a Make America Great Again flag next to it. It is believed that Superintendent Behm’s problem with the flag began when he observed those students displaying the two flags together at a football game in his school district. It was after this incident that Behm, a few parents and a Grand Rapids Black Lives Matter member, decided that the combination of the Betsy Ross flag and the Donald Trump flag was reprehensible and a slap in the face to black students.  The superintendent banned the president’s flag because some in America believe he is a racist.  The Betsy Ross flag was banned because it was flown by patriot groups, some of whom believed in white supremacy.

Superintendent Behm sent a letter to the families in the Grand Rapids School District stating, “Injecting partisan politics into a community football game and into a commemoration of the events of September 11th is inappropriate. Parading our current United States flag in a manner that is inconsistent with proper etiquette is disrespectful to all who have served our nation.” I agree with Superintendent Behm that politics has no place at a high school football game however, I do not agree that a historical US flag is a symbol of politics or hate. It should never be banned from any community event. Furthermore, flying a historical American flag is and never should be offensive.  It is very troubling to me that some in this great country find our flag offensive and associate it with any hate group or as a symbol of slavery.

According to the history of American flags the colors used in the flag generally represent red for valor, white for hope and purity, and blue for loyalty and vigilance. Washington described the symbolism of the flag as “We take the stars from Heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing Liberty.”

It is my hope that one day we will all come to understand that even though America is not perfect, we can come together and celebrate what is good about America and continue to correct its problems. This will never be accomplished by continual complaints about what we do not like and usually do not understand. I believe we have come a long way in America correcting the problems we have with inequality and racism. America is a work in progress. We see the proof of this throughout our history. Abraham Lincoln reminds us all, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

I love America. I love its flag.  I love our history as a nation.  Harry S. Truman stated, “America was not built on fear, [or hate]. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”  This is what the flag represents to the world and to most of Americans.