2016-06-29 / Features

I t’s a grand old flag

For more than 200 years, the American flag has been the symbol of our nation’s unity, as well as a source of pride and inspiration for millions of citizens. Here are the highlights of its unique history.

*On June 14, 1777 the Continental Congress passed an Act to establish an official flag for the new nation. The resolution ordered 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." On August 3, 1949 President Truman commemorated the occasion by officially declaring June 14th Flag Day.

*While no one knows the exact origin of the first American flag, some historians believe it was designed by Congressman Francis Hopkinson and sewn by Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross. *Between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed several acts that changed the shape, design and arrangement of the flag and allowed for additional stars and stripes to be added to reflect the admission of each new state. *Today the flag consists of thirteen horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with 6 white. The stripes represent the original 13 colonies, the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well; red symbolizes Hardiness and Valor; White symbolizes Purity and Innocence and Blue represents Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice.

An Inspiration to all...

*Amateur poet Francis Scott Key was so inspired by the sight of the American flag still flying over Baltimore’s Fort McHenry after a British bombardment that he wrote the "Star-Spangled Banner" on September 14, 1814. It officially became our national anthem in 1931.

*In 1892, the flag inspired James B. Upham and Francis Bellamy to write the "Pledge of Allegiance." It was first published in a magazine called "The Youth’s Companion."

Traveling Far and Wide...

*In 1909 Robert Peary placed a flag sewn by his wife at the North Pole. He also left pieces of another flag along the way. It is the only time a person has been honored for cutting the flag.

*In 1963, Barry Bishop placed the flag on top of Mount Everest.

*In July 1969 the American flag was "flown" in space when Neil Armstrong placed it on the moon.

*The first time the American flag was flown overseas on a foreign fort was in Libya, over Fort Derne, on the shores of Tripoli in 1972.

Display It with Pride...

*The flag is usually displayed from sunrise to sunset. It should be raised briskly and lowered ceremoniously. In inclement weather, the flag should not be flown. *The flag should be displayed daily and on all holidays, weather permitting, on or near the main administration buildings of all public institutions. It should also be displayed in or near every polling place on election days and in or near every schoolhouse during school days.

*When displayed against a wall or a window, the blue field should be uppermost and to the left of the observer.

*When the flag is raised or lowered as part of a ceremony as it passes by in parade or review, everyone, except those in uniform, should face the flag with the right hand over the heart.

*The U.S. Flag should never be dipped toward any person or object, nor should the flag ever touch anything beneath it.

Information source PBS.org.

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