Today is Flag Day and I thought I would post some known and little known facts about our American Flag. Long may she wave.
A Star for Every Colony
There have been 27 official versions of the American flag, starting with the first one in 1777 which displayed 13 stripes and 13 stars (for the 13 original colonies). When Kentucky and Vermont joined the union, the flag took on two more stars, so that from 1795 to 1818, 15 stripes and 15 stars graced the flag. It was this version of the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to compose “The Star-Spangled Banner,” during the battle at Fort McHenry. Anticipating a crowded field of stripes, lawmakers decided to honor each new state with a star, and leave the stripes at 13, after 1818.
Why Red, White & Blue?
Historians aren’t sure why the U.S. flag was designed in red, white, and blue, but if you’re wondering what it means, look to another great American symbol: the Great Seal of the United States. The colors of the Great Seal, which was created in 1785 (two years after the original flag design), were adopted from the American flag, according to U.S. Government documents. Consequently, the significance of the colors was retrofitted for the flag from the explanation for the seal given by Charles Thomson, the Secretary of Congress in 1782:
“White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour, and Blue, the colour of the Chief, signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice.”
The Flag’s Sleep-Wake Schedule
According to Federal flag laws and regulations, the flag should be displayed from sunrise to sunset (unless there’s inclement weather). That said, for patriotic effect, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day as long as it’s “properly illuminated” while it’s dark out. Want to catch the flag in its nighttime habitat? The U.S. flag is flown 24 hours a day, by either presidential proclamation or by law, at these locations:
Fort McHenry, National Monument and Historic Shrine, Baltimore, Maryland
Flag House Square, Baltimore, Maryland
United States Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima), Arlington, Virginia
On the Green of the Town of Lexington, Massachusetts
The White House, Washington, D.C.
United States customs ports of entry
Grounds of the National Memorial Arch in Valley Forge State Park, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
The Origins of “Old Glory”
In 1824, a sea captain from Massachusetts named William Driver bestowed the nickname “Old Glory” on his American flag, which crowned the main mast of his ship and had been sewn for him by his mother and other female admirers. After he retired from seafaring and settled in Nashville, Tennessee, he continued to proudly display Old Glory outside his house. Legend has it his 10-by-17-foot Old Glory withstood numerous Confederate attempts to deface it during the Civil War, and that Driver flew the flag over the Tennessee Statehouse once the war was over. In 1922, Driver’s daughter, Mary Jane Roland, presented Old Glory as a gift to President Warren G. Harding, who then gifted it to the Smithsonian.
Here's wishing all Americans a Happy and Blessed Flag Day. Hang up or out a Flag today. Until the next time dear friends, Have a day of blessings.