An American flag flies from its sky-high pole at our home year-around.
A U.S. Air Force veteran lives here, and the survivors of generations of veterans, starting with the American Revolution, live here.
On Memorial Day, Flag Day and Veterans' Day, we pause and pay tribute to all who served in our nation's wars.
I think of my great-grandfather, Samuel Davidson Laughlin, a Union color bearer in the Civil War who carried the American flag in several of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War: the Siege of Vicksburg, Battle of Lookout Mountain, and the battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga. The 6'3" farm boy from Linn, Mo. towered over his fellow soldiers. Height, as well as strength and courage, determined who carried the flags. It was an honor accorded to only a few.
Sam Laughlin and his white-knuckle grip on the American flag portrayed a defining moment in history. He escaped the blood and bullets of the Civil War unscathed. His flag did not; a musket tore a hole in it.
What he saw on the battlefields, however, would torment him and his fellow soldiers for decades.
The horrors of war....
Back at camp, did they ever pause to see a little beauty reminding them of the existence of Mother Nature...such as a butterfly fluttering by? Not during the late fall or winter months! Perhaps they did at the Siege of Vicksburg (May 18-July 4, 1863)? Maybe a monarch to soothe the soul?
"Some of the most breathtaking sights are those created by Mother Nature. And during the next few weeks, we'll get to experience one of her most eye-catching works – the spring migration of the monarch butterfly. The vibrant insects pass right through Mississippi, creating a colorful show in the sky."--Only in Your State (Mississippi)
Flying high, flying free.
Today, June 14, is Flag Day, a time when we celebrate and commemorate our American flag.
Our Continental Congress adopted the "Stars and Stripes" as our nation's flag on June 14, 1777.
Historians tell us that President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day in 1916 and in 1949, Congress officially designated June 14 as National Flag Day.
Today, and every day, flags flutter in the breeze. Sometimes we see majestic monarchs (Danaus plexippus) doing the same thing, fluttering in the breeze.
They were definitely fluttering around back in 1777 and eons before that.
Interestingly enough, the name, "monarch" is linked to royalty. Historians think the name may be in honor of King William III of England. But we know who originally described it: Carl Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae of 1758. He placed it in the genus Papilio. In 1780, Jan Krzysztof Kluk placed it in the new genus Danaus.
So, why not combine the flag and the monarch in one photo on Flag Day?
We did. Happenstance.
Back on Nov. 10, 2015, we released a newly eclosed monarch in our yard as we were replacing the flag on our flag pole.
Hopefully, after the brief photo op, Ms. Monarch fluttered to an overwintering site in Santa Cruz to join her buddies.
Two icons, the American flag and the monarch butterfly, are flying high today.
The American flag, or "Old Glory," symbolizes our democracy. The 13 stripes represent the 13 colonies that declared--and won--independence from Great Britain. The 50 stars in the field of blue denote our 50 states.
The glorious monarch, Danaus plexippus, reigns supreme in the world of butterflies, in that it's the most recognized butterfly and its seasonal migration routes to its overwintering sites in coastal California and central Mexico--and its return every spring--are legendary.
How did it get its name? Swedish taxonomist Carl Linnaeus the father of modern taxonomy, named the butterfly "Danaus," for a great-grandson of the mythical Greek god Zeus, and "Plexippus," reportedly one of the 50 sons of Aegyptus, the twin brother of Danaus.
Fifty states. Fifty sons.
The common name, "monarch," is thought to honor "The Prince of Orange," who later became known as the King William III of England. (The butterfly is predominately orange and black.)
Fortunately, the majestic monarch butterfly isn't known as "The Prince of Orange" (or "The Princess of Orange.")
Today we celebrate the Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day.
History books tell us that on July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, declaring the 13 colonies a new nation and no longer part of the British Empire.
In the insect world--specifically the monarch butterfly world--independence day occurs with eclosure. The monarch wiggles from its chrysalis, dries its wings, and gains its freedom. Metamorphosis is considered the greatest symbol of change, and indeed it is.
"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly."--Richard Bach.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/butterfly.html
Happy Independence Day!