Red, white, and blue

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July 4th Weekend flag in North Hero, Vermont, July 2, 2022. Photo by Howard Fielding

In a country of red vs. blue, I am neither. I choose white.

In politics, people will love you or hate you because of the color you choose to represent you.

What do those colors mean, other than an arbitrary selection made by journalists to show election outcomes? In the American flag, the three colors have meanings. According to, the colors on the flag represent:

  • Red: valor and bravery
  • White: purity and innocence
  • Blue: vigilance, perseverance, and justice

I’ve heard of other qualities associated with these colors, too. Red stands for the blood that was spilled for our liberty. Blue is for loyalty, white for peace.

All these qualities are essential to our democracy. Without any of them, we would not be the nation we are today. In balance, they define us, our soul, our conscience, the same way the flag does.

In a land of red vs. blue, no one talks about white. They only talk about which one, red or blue, is scoring the most political points–presidents, pundits, and policies.

Yet in our flag, as in our country, it is white–the mysterious, quiet noncolor (or unity of all colors)–that is most plentiful. Its stars shine out in the blue field. Its stripes bind their red neighbors together. If you’re making an American flag, you use more white cloth than either of the others.

If I were a thread in the American flag, I’d be part of a white stripe below a red one, alongside the blue field. I have sympathies for both sides–socially and philosophically with the liberals, economically and in international policy with the conservatives. In political terms, that’s libertarian.

I hang with one color and stand by the other. That’s what holds this flag–and this country–together.

Happy Independence Day!

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