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Capturing the Flag: Long May It Wave

I think one of the first things foreigners notice when they come to America is how much we love our flag. We stick it everywhere: on our public buildings, flagjpo.jpgon the porches of our homes, atop our car dealerships, on bikinis. You just don't see that in England or Germany (unless there's a World Cup soccer tournament on).

One of the great founding stories of our nation is the Star-Spangled Banner waving over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. flagjtreas.jpgIs there any other country that would lavish so much time and money on restoring a big, tatty piece of fabric?

But of course, our flag is really cool. It's got stars. It's got stripes. It's got two of everyone's favorite colors: red and blue. And it has white for anyone who doesn't like red or blue.

flagjwr.jpgAs you know, every Monday in "John Kelly's Commons" we play "Where in Washington?" That's where I post an old postcard from the collection of David Stinson and ask you to guess what it is. What I've noticed is how many of these old engravings have an American flag snapping proudly in the wind. Even if the printing is a bit off, the colors smudged or outside the lines, there's still something jaunty about the little flag. I've collected some of my favorites here. flagjhw.jpg I like how it's always a perfectly windy day in this postcard Washington. The flag never hangs limply at the pole. It's usually stretched out so you can tell what it is.

Where in Washington: Week 5
Last week's columned edifice was the Treasury Building, as most of you knew (though Tony Buckley of the District knew it first). Kala Ladenheim of Maine said the photo brought back childhood memories. I was captivated by her recollections of visiting the Treasury to score some collectible coins, since they describe a gloriously open Washington we'll probably never see again:

Boy that brings back memories. I collected coins as a kid. In the early 60s I'd go down with my brother's friend who also collected coins and $20 or so. We'd buy pennies, go through them looking for Indian head, zinc pennies, and even flying eagles. Turn them in, get more pennies, do it a few times, then switch to nickels, sort through for buffalo nickels and barbers, dimes--the Liberty dimes, quarters--standing Liberties, etc. etc. until we finished off with silver dollars. We'd turn the $ over a couple of times for each denomination, and just sit on the steps sorting through the coins looking for items for our collection. You used to just be able to walk in, and they had these coin sorting machines--at the time they were the only ones that had this.

Last week's was so easy I thought I'd make it a little harder this week. Recognize this?

contest24.jpg

E-mail your guess to me at kellyj@washpost.com. The first correct flagjwc.jpg answer I receive gets a postcard autographed by a Washington Post Pulitzer Prize winner.

By John Kelly  |  November 24, 2008; 9:38 AM ET
 
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Comments

The Flag of 1812 (or 1814), more authentically treated than in the past I believe, can be seen in the Museum of American History on the Mall, which reopened very recently after having been closed for some two years for renovation.

Posted by: cktirumalai | November 24, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the bikini link. Almost as good as cousin Liz Kelly's post of Salma Hayek this morning.

Was in Grenada earlier this year. They had depictions of their flag everywhere. Of course they were getting ready for an election. BTW Americans are still very popular there.

Posted by: reddragon1 | November 24, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

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