As patriotic songs go, this one evokes such a moving imagery of our beautiful nation that I can't help but be moved to tears of gratitude, pride, and deep respect. Through it's words I see the colorful landscape unfold as I soar high above from coast to coast. I see pilgrims and pioneers labor against outnumbered odds to create a home where they can live in peace. I see brave soldiers on battlefields give the ultimate sacrifice - for me. I see a country of people facing forward with hope and vision. It's a powerful song that can bring about such emotions. Well done, Ms. Bates! Ray Charles injects such soul and heart into his recording - you can't help but be caught up in the spirit of it all.
Pride of country was something that was taught and modeled for me as a young child. Not just by my parents but by my extended family and my community as well. I pledged allegiance to the flag every day at school. I stood and sang The Star Spangled Banner with pride. I put my hand over my heart when the flag was presented. I did everything a respectful citizen would be expected to do. But I remember the moment when what it all meant came thundering to my soul.
My foreign travel was very limited until 1987. There was the 6th grade trip to Niagara Falls - which was about two hours away from where I lived. Then there was the time I rode into Tijuana just to be able to say I had been to Mexico. We never got out of the car.
However, in 1987, I was granted the opportunity to travel to Japan with my mother to attend the wedding of an exchange student we'd had when I was about 14 years old. I had less than a month to get prepared and, wanting to be able to participate in the culture and not wanting to offend, I ran to the library to learn as much as I could about the Japanese culture. Before I knew it, I was on the long journey to this exotic land.
What gracious people! What giving people! What exemplary hosts! We were shown such respect and made to feel very welcome. For 10 days we traveled around that beautiful country via the Shinkansen(the "Bullet Train"), autos, taxis, and on foot. I felt incredibly safe everywhere we went, every hour of the day. I ate food that tasted nothing like the Japanese food back home. We participated in a Japanese wedding, explored their exquisite gardens, attended a kimono fashion show, and traveled up Mt. Fuji. It was a very good time. By the end, though, I was ready to go home.
As our plane touched down on U.S. soil at the end of the first leg of our journey, and I saw the American flag, I was overcome and overwhelmed with emotion. I hadn't really been pondering on my citizenship before then, but, for some reason, it hit me - hard! It doesn't take anything away from how wonderful the Japanese people were but, this was home. And I was filled to overflowing with love and respect, so much so that I started to sob. I was embarrassed and tried to hide the tears but they would not be contained. I ached to see my husband and family again because I missed them so much. But this wasn't that. This was undeniably love and deep appreciation for my country - and proud to be able to claim my American citizenship! I have never forgotten that moment. Even now, when I return from travels abroad, I am hit with that same feeling. I love my country. I'm proud to claim those stars and stripes!
With the celebration of the birth of our country coming up fast, I designed a sugar cookie to showcase that enduring emblem - the flag. I used the sugar cookie recipe and the buttercream recipe from earlier posts. I made two full recipes of the cookie dough, adding red coloring to one of them. Here's how I put them together!
Printable Recipe Card
Printable Recipe Card
Take about 1/8 of the cookie dough and roll it into a ball on a well-floured surface.
Roll the dough out to about 1/8" thin. If you look at my rolling pin in the corner of the photo, you'll see my green "cheaters" or "training wheels." These are rubber bands that come in different sizes. You slide them on to your rolling pin and it helps you roll out dough in a uniform thickness! Genius!
Make sure your surface is well-floured!
Out of this strip of rolled dough, cut a rectangle that is 3"x10".
Continue until you have 6 rectangles of the plain dough and 7 rectangles of the red dough. As you finish cutting each rectangle, move them to a sheet tray that is covered with parchment paper. Put a piece of parchment paper between layers of strips. Chill the rectangles in the fridge or freezer. It will make handling them much easier in the next step.
Once the rectangles are chilled well, stack them on top of each other, beginning and ending with a red piece.
If they have become frozen, work very carefully to avoid cracking them. You might have to wait until they thaw just a little, but still stay stiff.
Gently press the stack to help them stick together.
Using a sharp chef's knife, begin making slices.
Transport the cookie to a parchment-lined cookie sheet, using the blade of the knife for support.
You can trim up any edges quickly, if you like.
You can freeze them at this point or go ahead and bake them off. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Bake for 6 minutes, turning halfway through baking time.
If you want to make them look like "Old Glory," you can bake them a little longer until there is a slight brown around the edges.
Color the buttercream frosting blue and pipe a 3x3 cluster of stars in the top left corner. Decorate with white candy stars or dots.
Salute to good taste and fun design!