History of the Flag
The United States Flag is the third oldest of the National Standards of the world; older than the Union Jack of Britain or the Tricolor of France.
The flag was first authorized by Congress June 14, 1777. This date is now observed as Flag Day throughout America.
The flag was first flown from Fort Stanwix, on the site of the present city of Rome, New York, on August 3, 1777. It was first under fire for three days later in the Battle of Oriskany, August 6, 1777.
It was first decreed that there should be a star and a stripe for each state, making thirteen of both; for the states at the time had just been erected from the original thirteen colonies.
The colors of the Flag may be thus explained: The red is for valor, zeal and fervency; the white for hope purity, cleanliness of life, and rectitude of conduct; the blue, the color of heaven, for reverence to God, loyalty, sincerity, justice and truth.
The star (an ancient symbol of India, Persia and Egypt) symbolized dominion and sovereignty, as well as lofty aspirations. The constellation of the stars within the union, one star for each state, is emblematic of our Federal Constitution, which reserves to the States their individual sovereignty except as to rights delegated by them to the Federal Government.
The symbolism of the Flag was thus interpreted by Washington: "We take the stars from Heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing Liberty."
In 1791, Vermont, and in 1792, Kentucky were admitted to the Union and the number of stars and stripes was raised to fifteen in correspondence. As other states came into the Union it became evident there would be too many stripes. So in 1818 Congress enacted that the number of stripes be reduced and restricted henceforth to thirteen representing the thirteen original states; while a star should be added for each succeeding state. That law is the law of today.
The name "Old Glory" was given to our National Flag August 10, 1831, by Captain William Driver of the brig Charles Doggett.
The Flag was first carried in battle at the Brandywine, September 11, 1777. It first flew over foreign territory January 28, 1778, at Nassau, Bahama Islands; Fort Nassau having been captured by the American in the course of the war for independence. The first foreign salute to the flag was rendered by the french admiral LaMotte Piquet, off Quiberon Bay, February 13, 1778.
The United States Flag is unique in the deep and noble significance of its message to the entire world, a message of national independence, of individual liberty, of idealism, of patriotism.
It symbolizes national independence and popular sovereignty. It is not the Flag of a reigning family or royal house, but of 300 million free people welded into a Nation, one and inseparable, united not only by community of interest, but by vital unity of sentiment and purpose; a Nation distinguished for the clear individual conception of its citizens alike of their duties and their privileges, their obligations and their rights.
It incarnates for all mankind the spirit of Liberty and the glorious ideal of human Freedom; not the freedom of unrestraint or the liberty of license, but an unique ideal of equal opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, safeguarded by the stern and lofty principles of duty, of righteousness and of justice, and attainable by obedience to self-imposed laws.
Floating from lofty pinnacle of American Idealism, it is a beacon of enduring hope, like the famous Bartholdi Statue of Liberty enlightening the World to the oppressed of all lands. It floats over a wondrous assemblage of people from every racial stock of the earth whose united hearts constitute an indivisible and invincible force for the defense and succor of the downtrodden.
It embodies the essence of patriotism. Its spirit is the spirit of the American nation. Its history is the history of the American people. Emblazoned upon its folds in letters of living light are the names and fame of our heroic dead, the Fathers of the Republic who devoted upon its altars their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Twice told tales of National honor and glory cluster thickly about it. Ever victorious, it has emerged triumphant from eight great National conflicts. It flew at Saratog, at Yorktown, at Palo Alto, at Gettysburg, at Minala bay, at Chateau-Thierry, at Iwo Jima. It bears witness to the immense expansion of our national boundaries, the development of our natural resources, and the splendid structure of our civilization.
It prophesies the triumph of popular government, of civic and religious liberty and of national righteousness throughout the world.
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.Read the rest of the Declaration here
"I am the Flag of the United States of America"
I fly atop buildings all over the world.
I stand watch in America's halls of justice.
I fly majestically over institutions of learning.
I stand guard with power in the world.
Look up and see me.
I stand for peace, honor, truth and justice.
I stand for freedom.
I am confident.
I am arrogant.
I am proud.
When I am flown with my fellow banners,
my head is a little higher,
my colors a little truer.
I bow to no one!
I am recognized all over the world.
I am worshipped - I am saluted.
I am loved - I am revered.
I am respected - - and I am feared.
I have fought in every battle .. of every war .. for more than 200 years.
I was flown at Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Shiloh and Appomattox.
I was there at San Juan Hill, the trenches of France, in the Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome,
.. and the beaches of Normandy and Guam.
Iwo Jima, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm know me .. I was there.
I led my troops,
I was dirty, battleworn and tired,
but my Soldiers cheered me .. and I was proud.
My Troops now on active duty in the Middle East will always feel my presence,
for I am wherever they might be .. 24-7 .. and I am proud.
I am torn into strips and used as bandages ..
.. for my wounded comrades on the battlefield.
I am flown at half-staff to honor my fallen Soldiers.
When I lie in the trembling arms of grieving Parents ..
.. at the grave of their fallen Son or Daughter,
my folded colors will forever cradle their tears.
I have been burned, torn and trampled on the streets and countries I have helped set free.
It does not hurt, for I am invincible.
I have been soiled upon, burned, torn and trampled on the streets of my country.
And when it's by those whom I've served in battle - - it hurts.
But I shall overcome - - for I am strong.
I have slipped the bonds of Earth,
and stood watch over the uncharted frontiers of space,
from my vantage point on the moon.
I have borne silent witness to all of America's finest hours.
But my finest hours are yet to come.
"And now .. another Day of Infamy"
Tuesday .. September 11, 2001
The World Trade Center .. in Manhattan, New York
The Pentagon .. in Washington, DC
A Grassy Field .. in Shanksville, Pennsylvania
Once again .. I am flown at half-staff.
This time .. for thousands of innocent .. Men, Women and Children,
Airline, Military, Religious, Police, Medical, Port Authority, Fire & Rescue personnel ..
.. at their posts.
All here .. Visitors from foreign nations, Citizens on sacred turf .. their beloved homefront.
Once again .. there are the Wounded .. the Missing .. the Heroes,
this time .. on the homefront.
And now .. there are grieving Families, Memorial Services and Funerals,
all unnatural partings .. on the homefront.
And yet .. in the midst of this monumental sadness .. my presence revives strength,
courage, confidence, determination .. and spirited eagerness to lend helping hands.
Young citizens anxious to exchange their "civies" .. for U.S. Military uniforms.
U.S. Veterans .. willing to serve .. again.
"True Blue and True New Patriots" display me .. all over the homefront.
Look up and see me.
My name is Old Glory .. long may I wave.
Dear God in Heaven .. long may I wave.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Winter Olympics .. February 8, 2002