It Only Takes 3 Colors to Make a Rainbow

By The Reader's Turn
The Reader's Turn
The Reader's Turn
September 12, 2021 Updated: September 12, 2021

Happy Birthday to the American Flag, which was first flown in 1777. Many folks these days are trying to replace it with other, more trendy, and more so-called relevant flags. But our flag, “Old Glory,” will never go out of style.

In my mind, it only takes three colors to make a rainbow.

George Washington marched into Yorktown to receive the surrender of Lord Cornwallis in 1781, just four years after the flag he carried was invented. It was invented by a nation that itself was just invented. That particular flag flew over Fort McHenry in the War of 1812 when no one thought it would last. A song that we sing to this day was inspired by its survival. Our early Navy flew that flag on its vessels when they confronted pirates and would-be invaders. That flag was raised in dangerous, remote frontier outposts and went to battle in Chapultepec, Cerro Gordo, and other places more poetically referred to as the “Halls of Montezuma.” It was at Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Shiloh, and other fields too bloody to even contemplate. It was raised against troops who once flew that flag themselves until they made a decision to replace it with another. That flag was at another surrender at Appomattox and later saw action in Cuba and the Philippines. It was soaked in mustard gas in the forests of France and then returned there 25 years later to fight another war in Europe. That flag went down on the USS Arizona but was raised again at Iwo Jima. It was in Korea and Vietnam even while many thought it should not have been. And it has been in the Middle East for many years.

That flag has been draped over dead bodies of soldiers, some not even known—364,511 in the Civil War, 116,516 in World War I, 405,399 in World War II, 54,246 in Korea, and 90,220 in Vietnam, among other conflicts. And it has been in the Middle East to this day.

It has been draped over the coffins of law enforcement, firefighters, and presidents. It flies over schools, public buildings, and more places than anyone can count.

One flag and one flag only symbolize what we have built, what we have sacrificed, and what we have bled over. One flag that has always been there. It is not a rainbow flag or another flag invented in the emotional fervor of a current cause.

This flag defended all those other causes, carried by people no different than you or I. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and most of the time scared to death when they did them. But they did them anyway.

I have been ridiculed for not taking the rainbow flag more seriously. But all I can remember is the flag with the stars and the stripes that were always there when these other symbols were not there. So for all of those seeking “inclusion,” respect and acceptance, and the belief that these icons provide it, remember the flag that was there first and has always been there. It is red, white, and blue … all the colors you will ever need.

It only takes three colors to make a rainbow.


Charles Lopresto