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Tom Jordan, a local Vietnam vet, spoke about the importance of September events in American and world history at a recent talk at the Mountain Top Residential Apartments.

Getting flag waving above Mountain Top, and what that means

ASHEBORO — Tom Jordan helped get a 40-foot flagpole for Mountain Top Residential Apartments. Then he saw that a light shone on the flag so it could be displayed 24 hours a day.


“Then I volunteered to give a talk about the flag,” he said.


That talk took place on Sept. 22 in the Mountain Top dining room. Jordan came armed with the American flag and the "Star Spangled Banner."


He began by talking about the “marvelous month of September. Many world-changing events have happened this month.”


Jordan emphasized the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the United States, which he called a “wakeup call.”


Then there was Sept. 2, 1945, when the Japanese surrendered to end World War II. Jordan recalled being a small boy on that date, growing up in Cedar Falls. “In Cedar Falls, I heard every church bell, car horn and anything that could make noise. People were laughing and hugging.”


Another significant September date was Sept. 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland to start World War II.


Other important September dates included Sept. 9, 1776, when the Continental Congress adopted the name of the new country as the United States of America. On Sept. 17, 1787, the Constitutional Convention passed the world’s first written constitution.


Jordan then talked about the War of 1812, when Britain invaded the new nation to “teach us a lesson.” He said a British fleet burned Washington and went north toward Baltimore. Along the way, they picked up Francis Scott Key, a lawyer who “persuaded them to release a prisoner” being held on one of the ships.


Key was taken aboard the ship but before he could leave with the prisoner, the British began bombarding Fort McHenry. “But we were ready for them,” Jordan said, and the fort returned fire.


As Key watched the fort stand against the British, he could see the American flag still flying. He wrote a poem that became the “Star Spangled Banner.”


Jordan explained that the first American flag had 13 stripes and the 13 stars were arranged in a circle. But when two other states joined the Union, it was decided to form horizontal lines for the stars while adding two more stripes.


But as more states were added, the government chose to keep the number of stripes at 13 while adding more stars.


Jordan said that when he was 9 years old, he began going to Boy Scout meetings. When he turned 12, he qualified for the Boy Scouts. He said Colin Allred was the scoutmaster at Cedar Falls and he decided to begin each Scout meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance.


“I’m a veteran,” Jordan said. “I looked out the window one day and saw the flag, and it hasn’t been the same ever since.”


Jordan was an officer in the US Coast Guard and spent a year in Vietnam. He graduated from the NC State School of Textiles and earned graduate degrees from Duke University and Harvard School of Business. He founded Michael Thomas Furniture in High Point, retiring in 2014. His son George now runs the company.


Jordan was director of First National Bank/Community One for 27 years and was a director for three years at the Federal Reserve Board in Richmond.