Heraldry has its early beginnings.  And popularly, it is treated as such.  It has movie associations, for example The Adventures of Robin Hood (Errol Flynn, 1938) and Becket (Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton, 1964, in which English King Henry II is at odds with his old friend the Archbishop of Canterbury).  Heraldry also dresses up the plain and common t-shirt or off-the-rack blazer with something more than an evanescent flower.  It is seen as the way to distinguish onesself (or one's business), even when there are no real claims to coat arms  --  even when it is evident that the wearer of the shield may be only wearing a decorative bestowal.  It is in short historically romantic to include onesself among that long league which has come and gone: the knights of old, the bearers wide and far, those who stood for Christianity. We reach into the mouldering ages when we seek a moment in the presence of an ancient armorial symbol, something so particularly old that its meaning seems truly forgotten.  Yet heralds kept records of the claimants and their shields.  We know the standards of representation for the shield.  We know what they mean and who bore them.  Heraldry is still a used language.  Even today, we bear the symbols, we try for the notoriety and association with greatness, and we wear the shield.

I myself am fairly new to this discussion.  In the past, I was afraid to approach it, it has such steadfast formality.  Isn't it a world unintended for our eyes?  We are common folk.  We in America do not base our personal success on armory.  We are a young country, with young trees.   Perhaps the ways of the Old World whose forest resources are already lost to kindling are just now manifesting here.  I am sure my great-grandfather, a Michigan farmer and carpenter, used local woods for the houses he built during his lifetime for his family.  I am sure they heated the houses in that same way, with the wood of centuries plotted down, cut, trimmed and burned for survival.  We in America are in that process, maleable yet, using all we have for the population that we have, as the Old European World once did.  We Americans constitute a Young World, And we do not honor kings in our midst more than we honor the practical intentions of a common and good-hearted leader.  However, one of our presidents, Andrew Johnson, a common man not used to wealth, was not treated well by his Washington peers.  What's that?  --  do you think it is possible  that we silently seek majesty wherever it may be found, that we want majesty and royalty even though we do not adhere to it openly and politically?  Let us be honest:   many of us utilize simple, company-invented symbols to distinguish ourselves in this very young country where we cannot be born with distinction as in the Old World.  We use Brand in place of Crown to set ourselves apart.  The brand-creators know this, hence their high prices.  Who wouldn't want a chance to wear the crown?  We are young yet.  We still have the resources of the land.  And 'tis in the blood to want the Kingdom . . . .  (Signed G. Claire, this 28th of July in 2011.)

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    G. Claire is a descendant of Welsh Immigrants who came to California during the time of "the Great Excitement," also known as the Gold Rush.  She is, in addition, a descendant of young Mayflower passenger Mary Allerton and of Thomas Cushman, an Elder of the Plymouth Church.  The author is proud to be descended from Silvanus Brown, a member of that most notorious group of Vermont mobsters known as The Green Mountain boys.


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