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Friday, July 22, 2016

The "A Symbol Of The Enduring American Spirit" Story

Old Glory on my work bench.
It was an ordinary day.  Grabbing a few tools from a shelf above my workbench and as I was replacing a tray, with held my spare tools, back on the shelf I noticed four small United States Flags extending from the shelf.  I placed them there a few years ago as a reminder of the freedom that we all cherish in the United States of America and the pride I have in my country.  As I look up and down the street in front of my house I see American Flags flying in front of many of the houses as well as flags flying from poles in front of businesses at the other end of the street.  But, how many of you really know the true story of our flag?  Do you know that it was first flown at Fort Stanwix, New York in 1777 or that it was carried into battle for the first time at Brandywine in Pennsylvania?  Do any of you know that the original flag looked nothing like the flag we fly today.  
The very first American flag.
That flag was white with a green tree on it with the words "An Appeal to Hea- ven"
 written across the top.  It was in 1775 that the Continental Navy created its own flag which had the warning "Don't Tread on Me" written underneath a snake.  The background was made of red and white stripes and was the first glimpse of what we know as our flag today.  A year later the Grand Union Flag came into existence with 13 alternate red and white stripes and the British Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner.  It is said that in May of 1776 Betsy Ross sewed the first official American flag with the red and white stripes intact, but replacing the Union Jack with a navy blue square which held 13 stars forming a circle.  
Read for yourself the declaration.
But, did she really make that flag?  Betsy was an upholsterer who made flags for the Pennsylvania Navy.  It was in 1870 that her grandson was lecturing an Historic Society in Philadelphia when he told them that his grandmother told him that she met with George Washington and others and she designed the flag.  But there are reports that Francis Hopkinson, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, who was from New Jersey, submitted a bill to congress for designing the flag.  All he asked in return was two casks of ale.  But there is nothing to show that he really did this; no picture of that flag, no written description or not even a sketch to show.  
Old Glory flying in front of my Beach House.
So, to most people the legend lives on that the first flag of the Revolutionary period was made by Betsy Ross and is known as either the flag with the Betsy Ross Pattern, The Philadelphia Pattern or The Single Wreath Pattern.  The blue field on that flag was known as either "the field", "the union" or the "Canton."  Up until 1912 flag makers could actually decide themselves how the stars were arranged on the blue field.  It was in 1912 that President Taft established the pattern of stars that we know today.  The 48, 49 and 50 star flag all conform to the 1912 declaration.  On August 3, 1949, President Truman officially declared June 14 as Flag Day.  So, no matter if you call our flag Old Glory, the Stars and Stripes or the Star Spangled Banner we're still all talking about the flag that is the symbol of American identity and national pride.  So, you see why I feel as I do when I see those couple of small flags sticking out from my workbench.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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