A grandfather took his seven year old grandson to a parade on the 4th of July. Little Jimmy asks lots of questions. Watching the parade pass prompted many of them.
Jimmie asked, “Grandpa, are fire engines painted red because that’s the color of fire?
Grandpa answered. “No, but I’ve heard two reasons why fire-engines are painted red. One is that early firemen were proud of their trucks and so they painted them the most expensive color available in the late 1800’s. But … The one I think makes more sense was that most all of the early automobiles were painted black. Firemen in the late 1800’s wanted it to be easy for people to see them coming when they raced to a fire so they painted them red a color not used on cars back then.
Jimmie asked, “Grandpa, why do we have fire-engines in a parade, and set off fireworks, and wave all those flags, on the 4th of July?”
Grandpa answered, “The 4th of July is our country’s birthday so we Americans celebrate it just like we celebrate your birthday.”
Jimmie asked, “Wow, there are a lot of flags. Why do we have flags?”
Grandpa answered, “All people have flags as symbols of their country. We have the stars and stripes, Japan has a rising sun, Canada has a Maple leaf. Those symbols say something about their country.”
Jimmie asked, “Why do we have the stars and stripes for America?”
Grandpa thought for a few seconds and then answered, “Jimmie, most people will tell you the stars stand for each state we have in our nation and that thirteen stripes stand for the original thirteen colonies that declared their independence. That is true. But …… I’m going to give another reason, one that I believe is most important. It is one I want you to remember. I see those stripes as stairs our country offers to all its citizens, who are willing to do the work to climb them, to reach the stars above.