Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day 2010 tickles me green, black, and red, white and blue

GREATER NEW YORK - As a relative of numerous military veterans and a Veterans History Project Official Partner/New York, I've observed Veterans Day all my life. But this year is special. Veterans Day 2010 tickles me green, black and red, white and blue.

To explain what I mean, I've color-coded this post.

First Lady Michelle Obama helped kickstart the day with a long-awaited appearance on Sesame Street (taped in May). Attractively clad in garden-green, she got her well-manicured hands dirty, doing a great job teaching the muppets to plant healthy, tasty garden vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes). Afterward, she displayed a tempting tray of fresh salad fixings and explained: they not only taste great, but can also help one grow strong and tall like her. (The segment - which featured Big Bird's fancy for seeds - inspired my breakfast selection: a crispy mixed salad tossed with trail mix. Booyah!)


What does any of this have to do with Veterans Day? For one thing, I had time to savor Sesame Street 'cuz many establishments are closed for this federal holiday. More importantly, Mrs. Obama's husband, Barack Obama, is the nation's 44th president and "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States." Although (like 13 predecessors) President Obama lacks military experience and is not, technically, a military veteran, he is America's Supreme Commander, or as Alexander Hamilton phrased it: "first general and admiral." President Obama is the first African American to hold those positions.

FYI, Colin Powell has held the highest national posts held by an African American military veteran.  These include Four-Star General (since 1989), National Security Advisor (1987-1989); Commander-in-Chief, United States Army Forces Command (1989); Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-1993), and Secretary of State (2001-2005). Think the significance of race has declined sufficiently to avoid citing it? Think again.  As Colin Powell stated: "Many interviewers, when they come to talk to me, think they're being progressive by not mentioning in their stories any longer that I'm black. I tell them, 'Don't stop now. If I shot somebody you'd mention it. "

Red, white and blue, of course have been the colors of the national flag of the United States of America since June 14, 1977, when Congress...
Since then, the "Star-Spangled Banner" (aka the "Stars and Stripes" and "Old Glory") underwent numerous changes until July 4, 1960.  As "History of the American Flag" describes:
Resolved: that the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.

Today the flag consists of thirteen horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with 6 white. The stripes represent the original 13 colonies, the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well: Red symbolizes Hardiness and Valor, White symbolizes Purity and Innocence and Blue represents Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice.