Billy has a curious mind. He always had questions, and many adults found his questions hard to answer. But they tried to give Billy an answer in words a child could understand. He would ask, they would answer, and Billy would nod his head and say, “Okay.” That meant he accepted the answer he was given. If not, he always had more questions.
Today, Billy woke up and saw his dad placing small flags along the walkway to his house. His mom was hanging red, white, and blue ribbons around their patio in the back yard. He did not know what this meant. So, he asked.
“Mommy, why are you hanging those ribbons?” Billy asked.
“Today is the Fourth of July, Billy,” his mom said.
“But why are they only red, white, and blue?”
“Those are the colors of the flag.”
“Like the ones Daddy is putting in the front yard?” Billy asked.
“Right,” his mom said. “Go ask daddy about them.”
Billy ran to the front of the house. His daddy was whistling a familiar song.
“Hey, I know that song,” said Billy. “We hear it before the baseball games on TV.”
“That’s right, Billy. It is called The Star-Spangled Banner,” his dad said.
Billy wrinkled his nose like it was the weirdest thing he had ever heard, “What’s that?”
“It is one of the names of the United States flag,” Billy’s dad explained.
“It has more than one?”
Billy’s dad laughed, “Yes, it is known as Old Glory, The Stars and Stripes, and the American Flag.”
“Wow.” Billy looked at all the flags in his yard. “But why do they use red, white, and blue?”
“That is a great question, Billy.” His dad set the box of flags down and sat on the porch. Billy sat next to him. His dad took one flag out and stared at it for a moment.
“From what I remember, everything has a meaning. The stars tell you how many states there are. Right now, there are fifty stars.”
“So that means fifty states?” said Billy.
“Right,” said dad. Then pointing to the stripes, “There are thirteen red and white stripes on the flag. These stripes show that there were thirteen states when they first made the flag. As for the colors, Red means bravery. White means goodness. And Blue means justice or fairness.”
“That is so cool, dad,” said Billy.
“The flag is a reminder of the freedom we have.”
“What is freedom?” Billy asked.
“Freedom means we can do things without someone telling us that we can’t do it.”
“Well, for one, the first Americans wanted freedom from being ruled by a king. They did not like the laws that said they had to act a certain way. They also wanted the freedom to go to any church they wanted to.”
“That sounds mean. What did Americans do about it?” Billy asked.
“Americans wanted freedoms so bad, they were willing to fight to get them. Sadly, many of them died fighting for freedom.”
“That is sad, daddy,” Billy said.
“Yes, but the story has a happy ending.” Dad handed the flag to Billy, “So, when you see the flag, it is a reminder of the goodness (white) of the brave Americans (red) who fought for the fairness (blue) of the first thirteen states (stripes) to give everyone in the fifty states (the stars) the freedoms we have today.”
“Okay,” he said with a smile. “Thank you, daddy.”
Billy and his dad got up and finished placing the flags in the yard just in time for friends and family to show up for their Fourth of July celebration of freedom.