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|The Flag of The United States of America|
1. Evolution of the United States Flag No one knows with absolute certainty who designed the first stars and stripes or who made it. Congressman Francis Hopkinson seems most likely to have designed it, and few historians believe that Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress, made the first one.
Until the Executive Order of June 24, 1912, neither the order of the stars nor the proportions of the flag was prescribed. Consequently, flags dating before this period sometimes shows unusual arrangements of the stars and odd proportions, these features being left to the discretion of the flag maker. In general, however, straight rows of stars and proportions similar to those later adopted officially were used. The principal acts affecting the flag of the United States are the following:
· On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: "Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation."
· Act of January 13, 1794 - provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795.
· Act of April 4, 1818 - provided for 13 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the flag on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state, signed by President Monroe.
· Executive Order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 - established proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward.
· Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated January 3, 1959 - provided for the arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically.
· Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated August 21, 1959 - provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizon tally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.
On September 8,1892, the Boston based "The Youth's Companion" magazine
published a few words for students to repeat on Columbus Day that year. Written
by Francis Bellamy, the circulation manager and native of Rome, New York, and
reprinted on thousands of leaflets, was sent out to public schools across the
country. On October 12, 1892, the quadricentennial of Columbus' arrival, more
than 12 million children recited the Pledge of Allegiance, thus beginning a
required school-day ritual.
The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America's birthday, but
the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag is believed to have
first originated in 1885. BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils
in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14 (the
108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as 'Flag
Birthday'. In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses
over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the
observance of June 14 as 'Flag Birthday', or 'Flag Day'.
He retired to Nashville in 1837, taking his treasured flag from his sea days with him. By the time the Civil War erupted, most everyone in and around Nashville recognized Captain Driver's "Old Glory." When Tennessee seceded from the Union, Rebels were determined to destroy his flag, but repeated searches revealed no trace of the hated banner.
Captain Driver gently gathered up the flag and returned with the soldiers to the capitol. Though he was sixty years old, the Captain climbed up to the tower to replace the smaller banner with his beloved flag. The Sixth Ohio Regiment cheered and saluted - and later adopted the nickname "Old Glory" as their own, telling and re-telling the story of Captain Driver's devotion to the flag we honor yet today.
Captain Driver's grave is located in the old Nashville City Cemetery, and is one of three (3) places authorized by act of Congress where the Flag of the United States may be flown 24 hours a day.
I have so far been unable to determine where "Old Glory" resides today. A caption above a faded black and white picture in the book, The Stars and the Stripes, says only that " 'Old Glory' may no longer be opened to be photographed, and no color photograph is available." Visible in the photo in the lower right corner of the canton is an appliquéd anchor, Captain Driver's very personal note. "Old Glory" is the most illustrious of a number of flags - both Northern and Confederate - reputed to have been similarly hidden, then later revealed as times changed. 5. The "FLAG CODE"
Previous to Flag Day, June 14, 1923 there were no federal or state regulations
governing display of the United States Flag. It was on this date that the National
Flag Code was adopted by the National Flag Conference, which was attended by
representatives of the Army and Navy, which had evolved their own procedures,
and some 66 other national groups. This purpose of providing guidance based
on the Army and Navy procedures relating to display and associated questions
about the U. S. Flag was adopted by all organizations in attendance.
"On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress passed a resolution authorizing a committee to devise a seal for the United States of America. This mission, designed to reflect the Founding Fathers' beliefs, values, and sovereignty of the new Nation, did not become a reality until June 20, 1782. In heraldic devices, such as seals, each element has a specific meaning. Even colors have specific meanings. The colors red, white, and blue did not have meanings for The Stars and Stripes when it was adopted in 1777. However, the colors in the Great Seal did have specific meanings. Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, reporting to Congress on the Seal, stated:
"The colors of the pales (the vertical stripes) are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice."
The quote below concerning gold fringe on the Flag is from the book "So Proudly We Hail, The History of the United States Flag" Smithsonian Institute Press 1981, by William R. Furlong and Byron McCandless. "The placing of a fringe on Our Flag is optional with the person of organization, and no Act of Congress or Executive Order either prohibits the practice, according to the Institute of Heraldry. Fringe is used on indoor flags only, as fringe on flags on outdoor flags would deteriorate rapidly. The fringe on a Flag is considered and 'honorable enrichment only', and its official use by the US Army dates from 1895.. A 1925 Attorney General's Opinion states: 'the fringe does not appear to be regarded as an integral part of the Flag, and its presence cannot be said to constitute an unauthorized addition to the design prescribed by statute. An external fringe is to be distinguished from letters, words, or emblematic designs printed or superimposed upon the body of the flag itself. Under law, such additions might be open to objection as unauthorized; but the same is not necessarily true of the fringe.'"
The gold trim is generally used on ceremonial indoor flags that are used for special services and is believed to have been first used in a military setting. It has no specific significance that I have ever run across, and its (gold trim) use is in compliance with applicable flag codes and laws. 7. The Flag Folding Ceremony The flag folding ceremony described by the Uniformed Services is a dramatic and uplifting way to honor the flag on special days, like Memorial Day or Veterans Day, and is sometimes used at retirement ceremonies. Here is a typical sequence of the reading: (Begin reading as Honor Guard or Flag Detail is coming forward).
The flag folding ceremony represents the same religious principles on which our country was originally founded. The portion of the flag-denoting honor is the canton of blue containing the stars representing the states our veterans served in uniform. The canton field of blue dresses from left to right and is inverted when draped as a pall on a casket of a veteran who has served our country in uniform.
In the Armed Forces of the United States, at the ceremony of retreat the flag is lowered, folded in a triangle fold and kept under watch throughout the night as a tribute to our nation's honored dead. The next morning it is brought out and, at the ceremony of reveille, run aloft as a symbol of our belief in the resurrection of the body. (Wait for the Honor Guard or Flag Detail to unravel and fold the flag into a quarter fold--resume reading when Honor Guard is standing ready.)
The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life. The second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life. The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain a peace throughout the world. The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for His divine guidance. The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong." The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that 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.
The seventh fold is 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.
The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered in to the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on mother's day.
The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the characters of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.
The tenth fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.
The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost.
When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of
our national motto, "In God we Trust." (Wait for the Honor Guard or
Flag Detail to inspect the flag--after the inspection, resume reading.)
8.Where is the Flag flown 24 hours a day by law?Historical Note: After the addition of the new House and Senate wings in the 1850s, even before the great dome was completed in 1863, photographs of the period show flags flying over each new wing and the central east and west fronts.
Presidential proclamations and laws since that time authorize the display of the flag 24 hours a day at the following places:
- Fort Me Henry National Monument and Historic Shrine, Baltimore, Maryland (Presidential Proclamation No.2795, July 2, 1948).
- Flag House Square, Albemarle and Pratt Streets, Baltimore Maryland (Public Law 83-319, approved March 26, 1954).
- United States Marine Corp Memorial (Iowa Jima), Arlington, Virginia (Presidential Proclamation No.3418, June 12, 1961).
- On the Green of the Town of Lexington, Massachusetts (Public Law 89-335, approved November 8, 1965).
- The White House, Washington, DC. (Presidential Proclamation No.4000, September 4.1970). Washington Monument, Washington, DC. (Presidential Proclamation No.4064, July 6,1971, effective July 4, 1971). Fifty flags of the United States are displayed at the Washington Monument continuously.
- United States Customs Ports of Entry, which are continually open (Presidential Proclamation No.4131, May 5, 1972).
- Grounds of the National Memorial Arch in Valley Forge State Park, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania (Public Law 94-53, approved July 4, 1975).
Many other places fly the flag at night as a patriotic gesture by custom.
BADGE - An emblem or other device displayed on a flag, generally in the fly.
BANNER - A rectangular flag used by a king, prince, duke, or other noble. The
coat of arms of the owner covers the banner's entire surface. The term is also
loosely applied to a national flag (e.g., the "star-Spangled Banner")
and is today synonymous with flag.
CANTON - The four quarters of a flag are named cantons, especially the upper
quarter of the hoist, that is, the upper left hand corner of the flag; the canton
is sometimes also called the union.
COLORS - The national and regimental or armorial flags carried by dismounted organizations (such as a color guard). Hence, the national color for Army and Marine Corps regiments is the U.S. flag. The term also applies to the national ensign flown aboard a naval vessel.
ENSIGN - A special flag based on a country's national flag and used exclusively on naval ships or merchant ships. The civil ensign is the merchant marine's flag. The U.S. flag serves as a national flag, naval ensign, and civil ensign. Great Britain, on the other hand, has a white ensign for naval ships, a red ensign for merchant ships, and a blue ensign for merchant ships commanded by an officer in the Naval Reserve. Great Britain also has an ensign for the Royal Air Force and one for airports.
ESTOILE - A six-pointed, usually wavy, star.
FIELD - The ground of each division of a flag.
FLY - The edge of a flag farthest from the staff.
FOREMAST -The mast nearest the bow of a sailing ship.
GARRISON -A military installation, such as a fort. Also, the troops stationed
HOIST - (N.) The edge of a flag nearest the staff. (vb.) To raise a flag.
MAINMAST - The principal mast of a sailing ship.
MULLET - A five-pointed star, representative of a knight's spur.
SALTINE - An x-shaped cross.
SHIP OF THE LINE - in the days of sail, a naval ship that fought in the line of battle.
STAFF - A small pole from which a flag is flown.
STANDARD - A flag which is colored according to the owner's livery and displays the owner's badge or badges instead of his arms. The term "national standard" is used to describe the national and regimental flags carried by mounted or motorized organizations.
STERN -The rear of a ship.
STORM FLAG -The U.S. flag, which is flown at military installations during inclement weather. It is smaller than the U.S. flag that is usually flown at the installation.
TASK FORCE - A group of naval ships such as a squadron, several squadrons, or a fleet with a specific military objective to accomplish.
UNION - A flag or device of a flag symbolizing the union of countries or states. Also, the canton of (1) the U.S. flag, (2) British ensigns, and (3) British Commonwealth flags that are based on the British ensigns.
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