• Exploring American History

America’s Lucky Number

Have you ever noticed how many people have the notion ‘13’ is an unlucky number? Are you aware there are actually some buildings that skip ‘13’ when the floors are numbered due to the paranoia of some people? Crazy, huh? Fear of walking under a ladder could be understood because you never know when a bucket of paint may be knocked over, but fearing a simple number? If you happen to be one of these people fearful of the number ‘13’ - commonly referred to as 'triskaidekaphobia' - you might want to consider living somewhere other than the good old U S of A.

The United States began with a collection of 13 colonies, which later became the first states of the new nation. On the Great Seal of the United States, there are eight times 'thirteen' is displayed – six of them are found on the Obverse (front) side and two on the Reverse:

- Above the eagle’s head, (1) 13 stars are arranged in what was described as a ‘constellation’ when the Great Seal was designed. (Be sure to look closely at the way in which that constellation is arranged.)

- The eagle bears on its chest a shield designed with (2) 13 pales (stripes) of white [7] and red [6].

- In the talons of its left foot are (3) 13 arrows

- His right foot holds an olive branch bearing (4) 13 olives and (5) 13 leaves.

- The banner in the eagle’s beak reads ‘E Pluribus Unum,’- which is (6) 13 letters long and means ‘Out of Many, One.’

On the Reverse of the Great Seal, the unfinished pyramid contains (7) 13 levels. Above the pyramid, the statement ‘Annuit Coeptis’ contains (8) 13 letters. The words mean, ‘He has favored our undertaking.’

If you delve deeper into American history, other 13s will be found, including the design of the US flag with 13 stripes of red [7] and white [6].

Also consider the process involved with folding the flag. It includes 13 steps. You begin by folding the flag in half lengthwise, twice. One end is now folded triangularly across the flag, then again in the opposite direction. This continues until the entire flag is folded. A small portion of the flag should be available to tuck into the folds. Each of these 13 folds has its own meaning:

1 - our flag is a symbol of life.

2 - our belief in eternal life.

3 - made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

4 - our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.

5 - a tribute to our country in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.

6 - where our hearts lie. It is with our heart we Pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

7 - a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

8 - a tribute to the One who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.

9 - a tribute to womanhood, and mothers. It is through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.

10 - a tribute to the father, for he too has given his sons and daughters for defense of our country since they were first born.

11 - the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews' eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

12 - an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the Christians’ eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.

13 - When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our nation’s motto, "In God We Trust."

When the flag has been completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, serving as a reminder of those patriots who served under General George Washington; along with the sailors and Marines under the command of Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates into the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges and freedoms we enjoy today.

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Now, as you reflect on this collection of 13s, ask yourself, “Could there be a specific reason for this, or is it just a coincidence?” Webster defines ‘coincidence’ as ‘the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident, but seem to have some connection.’ For those who believe in a Higher Power – consider this definition . . . ‘When God chooses to remain anonymous.’

In the Bible, various numbers are used on a regular basis, such as 12 and 40. If one studies the meaning of these and other numbers, their significance is found to be amazing.

In the case of ‘13’, the meaning assigned to it is ‘unity’ (another way of saying, ‘E Pluribus Unum’). Coincidence? Per that assignment, is it not appropriate for the United States to have so many ‘13’s tied to its early years?

Though there are those who nowadays disagree with these facts; history is ripe with examples of America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and the beautiful mystery of God’s hidden hand in the birth and foundation of the United States of America.

For ‘13’ to be unlucky would require there to be some kind of cosmic intelligence that counts things that humans count and that also makes certain things happen on certain dates or in certain places according to whether the number 13 ‘is involved’ or not (whatever ‘is involved’ might mean.)

Douglas Hofstadter

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