Nation Honors 'Old Glory' on Flag Day

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Tuesday, June 14 is Flag Day -- the day our nation has set aside to honor the flag.

After almost 235 years, Old Glory is a survivor. First in battle, she remained flying above Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor, after a bombardment by British naval forces in 1814. Francis Scott Key, who witnessed the event, wrote a poem that would later become the National Anthem.

The Stars and Stripes has since waved on every continent on earth and in every battle that American forces have fought -- from Gettysburg to San Juan Hill -- from the Ardennes to Kandahar. She also still stands on the moon, marking the site of NASA's first lunar landing.

And today, she still waves proudly over the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Time for a New Sense of Patriotism

Unfortunately, Flag Day is one of those national holidays that most Americans seem to forget. Would we remember it better if it came with a day off of work like The Fourth of July? Perhaps, we need to instill in each other a new sense of patriotism -- the pride in our country that makes you jump to your feet when the flag enters a room or an assembly.

It's the sense of pride that brings a small tear to your eye when you see the flag waving proudly in the breeze, whether it be over a national memorial or over your local elementary school. And we need to pass that pride on to our children and our children's children.

The flag is, after all, one of the common national symbols that unite us together as a people -- as Americans.

The Origin of the Flag

Today, scholars still debate who sewed the first American flag. Many legends surround its first creation or birth. One legend that comes down from 1776 says that George Washington commissioned seamstress Betsy Ross of Philadelphia to sew a flag that would represent the new nation. Ross knew Washington and sewed many flags.

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed a resolution calling for a national banner.

"Resolved, that the Flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation," they wrote.

The flag's 13 red and white stripes represent the 13 original colonies. Each star in the blue field represents each of the 50 states in the Union.

Did You Know:

--There have been 27 different versions of the Star-Spangled Banner. The present flag bearing 50 stars became our country's official flag on July 4, 1960.

--The idea of celebrating the flag's birthday dates to 1885. B.J. Cigrand, a Fredonia, Wis., public school teacher, had his pupils observe June 14 as the "Flag Birthday."

--Many communities and a few states had celebrated Flag Day from around 1861 at the start of the American Civil War. However, it was not until 1916 that President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14 as a national Flag Day celebrating the adoption of the Stars and Stripes.

--Congressional legislation was signed by President Harry Truman in 1949 designating June 14 as national Flag Day. The law also called upon the president to issue a Flag Day proclamation every year.

--The flag's name "Old Glory" reportedly came from Captain William Driver, a shipmaster from Salem, Mass. Some of his friends gave him a brand new flag of 24 stars. As the banner was hoisted above his ship and as it was caught by the breeze, Driver exclaimed "Old Glory!" Captain Driver's grave in the Old Nashville, TN City Cemetery is only one of three places authorized by Congress where the Flag of the United States may be flown 24 hours a day.

--There is a Flag Code for displaying your flag and is authorized by the United States Senate.

Remember to honor our nation's flag on Tuesday. Let's see thousands and thousands of the red, white and blue banners billowing in the breeze. If you don't have a flag on a pole, that's OK. Decorate your yard with small flags. Show your neighbors -- your country -- that you care.

Fly your flag.




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