Darlene Franklin is both a resident of Crossroads of Love and Grace in Oklahoma City, and a full-time writer.

By Darlene Franklin

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. 31

The year I was born (1954), President Eisenhower added the words “under God” to the pledge. The words hold a special place in my heart, for personal and patriotic reasons. Let’s raise the standard high to the music of Key, Sousa, Springsteen, and Cohen. 44
Although no other flag can replace the importance or meaning of the red, white, and blue in my life, I’ve lived under at least six different flags during my faith like the amusement parks of the same name. To the national flag, I would add three state flags, my family crest, and the
Christian flag. 55
At sixty-four, my life divides neatly into three twenty-year segments. I spent the first score of years in New England, mostly Maine; ten years in Oklahoma; twenty in Colorado; and now another ten years in Oklahoma. In between sprinkle brief stints in New Jersey, Texas, and Arkansas for job and school. 51
The flags for Maine, Colorado and Oklahoma differ widely. They each, in style and content, fairly scream the essence of the state they represent. 24
Maine’s flag depicts a moose laying on grass between ocean and a white pine tree, flanked on by a sailor and a farmer. If the state animal and tree left me in doubt, I couldn’t miss the bold letters proclaiming “Maine.” The state motto, “Dirigo,” means “I lead.” I chuckle to myself as I picture Mainers saying, “That’s right. We’re going to do things our way, and who cares about the rest of the world?” It makes me nostalgic to look at the flag. 84
Colorado’s flag is in your face in a very different way. The bold red C emblazoned upon a blue-white-blue striped background shares its colors with the United States flag. But such a simple design would never rep resent California, and I doubt Connecticut would add a gold nugget in the middle of the C. Clear blue skies, white snow, golden sunshine – that’s my Colorado. 64
The Indian war shield with a peace pipe and olive branch could only belong to Oklahoma. I agree with the words of its pledge, “its symbols of peace unite all people.” Not that Oklahoma has a perfect record—nowhere does—but I love living in a state where contemporary Indian life marches seamlessly and colorfully alongside our state life. 59
If Maine represents my past, and Colorado the stuff of my dreams, Oklahoma represents who I am today—at peace after a trauma-filled past. 24
Research into the crest for my maiden name Sparks revealed several surprises. For one things, “Sparks” is derived from Sparrowhawk, the favorite falcon of Richard the Lion-Hearted. One of his falconers took it as his surname, representing his occupation. When the Sparrowhawk and the Lion-Hearted fought side by side during the Crusades, the falconer saved the king’s life on two occasions. 62
I don’t know with one hundred percent legacy that Sparrowhawk is my ancestor, but it’s possible. I love the family crest. The family motto, “swift and true,” also comes from King Richard—the words he used to describe his favorite falcon. 41
Atop the crest stands a leopard with fire spewing from its mouth. Hmm, a big cat. I’m a Leo by birth, and I wonder if my affinity to all things cats is a family trait. The lively, fiery disposition attributed to Sparks has also been true of me. The green and gold checkered background both suggest the country—Scotland—but also qualities of generosity, elevation of mind, hope. 68
I bet everyone’s family flag holds similar interesting revelations. 9
What about the Christian flag? When I pledge allegiance to the flag and to the Bible, I declare my loyalty to “one Savior, crucified, risen, and coming again with life and liberty to all who believe,” as well as “God’s Holy Word. I will make it a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path and will hide its words in my heart that I might not sin against God.” 72
Combined, they speak to me not of patriotism, but of my core values. I am daughter of the king, my birthright through my Savior, and that brings liberty to me, and to those around me. 35
Let’s take a few moments this month to think about the flags that represent our past, our present, and our future heritage. 22 193