With all the news swirling about these days, concerned observers can’t be faulted for thinking this July 4 may be the last time we celebrate Independence Day.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for the Lakes Region Weekly, lives in Windham.

If you haven’t yet buried your head like an ostrich by turning off news broadcasts, you’re probably shocked that Marxists have taken over sections of American cities, that police departments are hardly trying to stop the violence and that some are calling for John Lennon’s bleak and nihilist “Imagine” to become the National Anthem.

Imagine that, no “Oh, say can you see …” Nope, I actually can’t imagine that. Francis Scott Key’s triumphant, spine-tingling and patriotic lyrics are just fine, thanks.

With cancel-culture rioters tearing down Founding Fathers statues, destroying personal and public property and threatening a social and political revolution in the Leninist tradition, it’s time the heretofore silent, yet vast majority of Americans who appreciate their economic and personal freedoms fly our own flag.

And there’s no better day to start flying that flag than this July 4, the day in 1776 when the Britain-defying Founding Fathers bravely signed their names to the Declaration of Independence.

Flags are quite popular now. But what flag should we fly? What flag best symbolizes the country’s founding ideals and can unite everyone (except, of course, the closed-minded, culture-crushing rioters)?

The official American flag, with 13 red and white stripes symbolizing the original colonies and 50 stars to represent the current number of states, is one of the most beautiful and meaningful of world flags. Of course, Old Glory is always a great option. But are there others?

Should we fly the “Don’t tread on me” flag, the one with a snake curled up on a yellow background? I’ve always thought that was a great flag, since I believe the country would be better off with more welfare-eschewing, bootstraps-pulling rugged individualists.

But the country is more than just a collection of holed-up individuals. It’s a community where some are in need of real help. Government needs to “tread” (lightly, preferably) in the form of taxation so the national welfare and defense can be provided. For these reasons, the coiled snake flag doesn’t quite grasp the entirety of what makes America great, though it gets close.

Then there is Trump’s Make America Great Again flag, the gay rights rainbow flag, the thin blue line flag for police and the Confederate flag for ardent anti-federal government types. These flags, however, enrage certain segments of the population and wouldn’t serve as unifying platforms.

So, what flag can we all unite under? What can we fly to show we support America as originally envisioned? The best answer is the Bennington flag.

You know it well. It’s the one where “76,” for the year the Declaration of Independence was signed, is surrounded by 13 stars and stripes representing the breakaway colonies. It’s also known as the Spirit of ’76 flag. Its origins are shrouded in mystery, but it either dates from the American Revolution or War of 1812, when Britain tried to retake America.

The Spirit of ’76 flag succinctly recalls our beloved Founding Fathers’ desire to cast off the soul-crushing bonds of tyrannical laws and regulations, high taxation, subservience to a foreign power and move to a completely new system that promoted equality of opportunity and the democratic concept of one person, one vote.

Flying the Spirit of ’76 in every neighborhood would remind older Americans and educate younger citizens about what made, and still makes, America unique in the world: Freedom.

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