The United States Flag
History of the
The Flag of the United
States is the third oldest of the National standards of the
world; older than the Union Jack of Britain or the Tricolor of
The Flag was first
authorized by Congress June 14, 1777. This date is now observed
as Flag Day throughout America.
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 of God, loyalty,
sincerity, justice and truth.
It was decreed that there should be a star and a stripe for
each state, making 13 of both, for the states at that time had
just been erected from the original 13 colonies.
The star (an ancient symbol
of India, Persia and Egypt) symbolizes dominion and sovereignty,
as well as 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 in
posterity representing liberty."
In 1791, Vermont, and in 1792, Kentucky were admitted to the
Union and the number of stars and stripes were raised to 15 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 to
13, representing the 13 original states, while a star should be
added for each succeeding state. That is the law of today. The
name 'Old Glory' was given to the Flag, August 10, 1831, by
Captain William Driver of the brig Charles Doggett.
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 three days later in the Battle of Oriskany,
August 6, 1777.
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 Americans in the course of the war for
independence. The first foreign salute to the Flag was rendered
by the French admiral, LaMotte, off Quiberon Bay, February 13,
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 over two hundred million
free people welded into one 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
Floating from the 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 for nine
great national conflicts. 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.
The Flag first rose over
thirteen states along the Atlantic seaboard, with a population
of some three million people. Today it flies over fifty states,
extending across the continent, and over great islands of the
two oceans; and owe allegiance. It has been brought to this
proud position by love and sacrifice.
Citizens have advanced it
and heroes have died for it. It is the sign made visible of the
strong spirit that has brought liberty and prosperity to the
people of America. It is the Flag of all of us alike. Let us
accord it honor and loyalty.