This coming Sunday, June 14, 2015, is Flag Day. It is a day that recognizes the adoption of the national flag on June 14, 1777. Of course, the first flag designed by the famous Betsy Ross only had 13 stars (and 13 stripes) representing the 13 colonies – soon to be the first 13 states of the United States when the government was formed a decade later.
Flags are symbols of the patriotism we have for our countries. We think of flags mostly to represent all of the countries of the world. However, flags have been used for centuries to represent aristocratic families, states, counties, armies or military units. When used to represent armies in a battle, the flags carry great importance to those fighting in that war. Metaphorically, military banners and flags are used to describe certain aspects of politics. In honor of Flag Day this year, I offer a few examples of metaphors based on military flags.
marching under a flag
Historically, each army carried a flag of its country or particular military division. Soldiers would then march under the flag as they went into battle. In common terms, any group of people united to achieve a common goal may be described as marching under the same flag.
Example: Conservative Republicans often march under the flag of low government spending.
Someone who carries the flag of an army is especially devoted to the cause. If the flag falls to the ground, this indicates that the army may be losing the battle. In metaphorical terms, someone with unflagging support is especially devoted to the goals of the project.
Example: In the 2012 election, some progressives who had given Barack Obama unflagging support in the previous election began to lose confidence in him since he had failed to enact many progressive laws.
A flag is also called a standard in some cases. Thus the person is carries the flag may be called a standard-bearer. Metaphorically, a standard-bearer is a person who has the highest amount of honesty and integrity in a group of people.
Example: President Bill Clinton was considered to be the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party until he was caught having an affair with his intern, Monica Lewinsky.
under the banner
A banner is a type of flag that is long and narrow. An army may also march under a banner. In common terms, a group of people may act together under a banner if they are working together to achieve a goal.
Example: The American people often get frustrated with politicians who claim to be working under the banner of helping everyone achieve the American dream when they are actually helping corporations get richer.
unfurled his own thoughts
When a flag is unrolled, we may also say that it is unfurled. Ideas or words may also be unfurled as a person speaks.
Example: A good presidential candidate will unfurl his or her own thoughts carefully during a debate.
Next time: Fathers’ Day